The first edition of the Global Economic Zones Expo & Convention 2019, held at The Ashoka, New Delhi, saw industry leaders and government representatives discuss important topics and trends in areas such as infrastructure development, logistics, investments, incentives, etc., impacting the growth and functioning of Special Economic Zones in India. A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is an area earmarked by the government to be developed as a specialised or multi-product manufacturing hub, predominantly for export purposes. SEZs are intended to facilitate rapid economic growth by leveraging incentives to attract both domestic and foreign investment and technological advancement.
The conference was also addressed by Mr Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog and Mr Anup Wadhawan, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry. The event had participation from the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of MSME, Ministry of Urban Development, Indian Railways and the state governments of Haryana as State Partner and governments of Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and most of the government SEZs such as Noida, Magalore, Kandla, Dahej, Falta, and private SEZs like Adani Ports SEZ (Developer Partner), Mahindra, Reliance, Sri City, GIFT City and TATA Steel SEZ as partner participants.
During a session on ‘Revitalising India’s Economic Zones’, Ashish Mathur, MD, TATA Steel Special Economic Zones Ltd., said, “The concept of GEZ is needed if India wants to achieve the $5 trillion economy that we dream about. If we want to create more jobs and an environment conducive to manufacturing, it is important for us to get these large industrial parks fully functional. When it comes to manufacturing, where the material and physical goods are to be brought in and taken out, there will be large-scale movement of people for which logistics will have to be maintained, all this is possible only when you have large industrial parks operational. That is why it is crucial for the government to place focus upon developing more SEZs in the country.”
In another session on ‘Promoting Investment and Trade in Economic Zones’, Dr. L.B. Singhal, Development Commissioner, Noida Special Economic Zone, said, “The objective of an SEZ, as given in Section 5 of the SEZ Act, 2005, is to increase exports, investment and employment in the country. If we see from these objective criteria, exports from SEZs in the year 2005 stood at Rs. 22,000 crore. From 2005 onwards, exports grew exponentially to Rs. 5,82,000 crore ($92 billion) in 2018. This year, up till March 23, total exports had already touched Rs. 6,85,000 crore ($97.8 billion), and it might be for the first time that we are close to $100 billion worth of exports from SEZs! Meanwhile, total investment in SEZs in 2005 stood at Rs. 4,000 crore, generating employment for 1,34,000 people. Today, this investment has gone up to more than Rs. 5,00,00 crore and has so far created employment for more than 2 million workforce.”
Speaking at the conference about the Chabahar project, Abhishek Chandra, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, Government of India, said, “Under the Sagarmala programme, we are doing development of the Chabahar port in Iran as a strategic linkage with Afghanistan and Central Asia. This project is will reap rich dividends to the investor and to the people who are taking the lead to invest in Iran, because the port in based in a free trade zone.”
Other topics that were discussed included ‘Infrastructure for Successful Economic Zones’ and ‘Tax Incentives in Economic Zones’.
Currently, with 231 operational SEZs the country has generated around Rs. 4,000 billion revenue and created 2 million jobs. Meanwhile, 421 formal approvals are already in place.
Concluding on a positive note, Mr Prem Behl, Chairman, Exhibitions India Group said, “Today, India is the fastest growing major economy in the world and is expected to be one of the top three economic powers over the next 10-15 years. Our government welcomes hundreds of overseas companies to invest, while Indians have pro-actively adopted a global dimension to expand their businesses. A booming manufacturing sector, a huge population comprising millions of youth, and global majors seeking strategic partnerships, together provide an ideal environment for the SEZ concept to flourish in India.”