Indian MSME sector has a lot of potential: Sonia Sethi

Dr. Sonia Sethi, Additional Director General of Foreign Trade ensures transparent and robust process to boost exports. Jescilia Karayamparambil reports.

What are the key factors that DGFT is focusing on?

The bigger picture for DGFT is to increase the export rate from 2% to 3.5%. The Zonal office (West) in Mumbai handles around 40% of the country’s trade.Hence, as the newly appointed Additional Director General of Foreign Trade, it is my priority to oversee that the entire banquet of services rendered by the office is delivered as per the stipulated guidelines and in a stipulated time frame. An outreach programs to address issues concerning exporters is next on the agenda. DGFT (Mumbai) managed to bring down Import Export Code (IEC)/ Merchandise Export Incentive Scheme (MEIS) applications to zero pendency.

How did you achieve that?

Despite all the limitations, the team has responded well. They have seen to it that we are strictly adhering to the timeline. The pendency for major licenses, scripts and other permissions are as per the time frame. The regular monitoring, solving and administering issues have helped us to have a very excellent start. Now, the effort is to sustain it and continue with this good work.

What is your take on GST bill?

Right now, there is a constitutional journey that the bill has to take. In time to come, we will see how some of schemes that the DGFT office is implementing will be impacted with the development that is taking place.Already, there are communications that are taking place in the highest level in the ministry of commerce and finance. All these issues are talked in detail and I think the roll out will be 1st April. In due course, there will be more clarity.

What are the key areas that you are focusing with regards to MSMEs?

We are looking at identifying MSMEs which have high export potential and to figure out where those clusters are densely located. There is some identification that has already been done by the government. For instance, the pharmaceutical and engineering sectors are examples of some sectors that government of India has identified. But this does not stop us for carrying any such initiative. MSMEs have a lot of potential. They just need some mentoring and confidence building. We plan to achieve that through various outreach programs. We are trying to play the role of a facilitator.

Do you think we need any new modern trade policy?

The current foreign trade policy has addressed lot of concerns. We have just begun in 2015 and we should let it in good spirit. And, any major concerns can be handled at the mid-term review.

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