Beijing: The Union government is open to changes in 5,000 hectare land ceiling for Special Economic Zones which was decided at the meeting of Empowered Group of Ministers about two weeks back.
“We have a broad parameter. If there are any specific or area-specific issues, which do not have any controversy, of course we will look at it (the ceiling) in certain conditions,” Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said here.
“This is not the Gita or the Bible. No?,” Nath said when asked whether the government would have a re-look into the land ceiling policy for setting up SEZs.
Nath’s remark comes a day after Reliance, whose two projects would be impacted by the ceiling, said the government would change its mind on the issue.
“I am sure this is not a final no. There is much more to come... We will go to the government, we will place our ideas with them, and we are sure that they will change their mind,” Reliance’s SEZ Group Head Anand Jain had told a TV channel.
The agreement to limit the size of SEZs was the one of the major factors leading to lifting the freeze on these zones that was in place since January. The limit was expected to put to rest controversy surrounding land acquisitions for SEZs.
India seeks market access for farm products
India has sought increased market access for its agricultural products in China, as a way to address the growing trade surplus that Beijing has started accumulating in bilateral trade.
Nath told reporters that he took up the matter of access to farm products during his talks with the Chinese side, besides the issue of early approvals for export of Indian tobacco.
Nath also raised the issue of the pending Protocols on Phyto-Sanitary requirements for the export of 14 Indian fruits and vegetables to China.
“The (Chinese) response was very good,” he said at a briefing on separate bilateral meetings he had with his Chinese counterpart Bo Xilai and Chinese Agricultural Minister, Sun Zhengcai.
“The Chinese side assured that India’s concerns on tobacco, fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products would be given full attention,” he said.
Earlier, Nath told the Chinese leaders that as trade between the two nations grows from $25 billion to $40 billion, the deficit will start striking out at some time.
India to ensure FTA with ASEAN not ‘palm oil’ centric
India, whose palm oil products import was 77% of total edible oils shipped in between November and March, will ensure that the proposed Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN does not end up as a ‘palm oil FTA.´
“Talks on the FTA with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is moving along. We want to make sure that this not a palm oil FTA,” Nath told reporters after concluding high-level meetings here.
“We want to make sure that this is an FTA which encompasses all ASEAN countries and most of the things have been ironed out,” he said.
India imported 1.4 million tonnes of edible oil between November 2006 and March 2007, out of which 1.07 million tonnes constituted palm oil group products.
In 2005-06, total edible oil arrival stood at 4.41 million tonnes, with palm oil group accounting for 2.57 MT.
Negotiations between India and the ASEAN trading bloc were stuck for a long time over differences on concessions on items in the highly sensitive list.
ASEAN member nations include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.