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Pharmexcil conducts interactive meet on Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020 in Mumbai

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DGFT to go online for filing documents by June 30 this year

Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) has recently organised an interactive meet on Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020 and its impact on the pharmaceutical sector in Mumbai. During the meet, experts from the industry, regulators and policy makers discussed different positive aspects of the new Foreign Trade Policy (FTP).

Ashutosh Gupta, Chairman, Pharmexcil welcomed the dignitaries as well as Pharmexcil members. In his opening remarks, he said, “The present government has an industry-friendly approach and we should not forget that it has taken many positive and encouraging steps in favour of the industry. The new FTP has clubbed five different schemes under chapter 3 which would result in less paperwork and a hassle free environment. For the first time, our Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) manufacturers are very happy with the new FTP 2015-2020 as it opens many avenues for them as well.”

Dr Kavita Gupta, Additional DGFT, Mumbai graced the occasion as Chief Guest. She said, “Since we have a stable government at the centre, the good part of the policy is that it will not see changes so early except for mid-term review process.”

Dr Kavita Gupta elaborated and said that FTP 2015-2020 is notified by the Central Government of India under section 5 of FTDR Act 1992 and the latest FTP is in effect from April 1, 2015 till March 31, 2020. She urged industry stakeholders to remain extra cautious with the documentation process as many of the DGFT’s process are going digital. She informed about status holder certification application, which is available till June 30, 2015. In her presentation, she mentioned about various salient features of simplification and merger of reward schemes.

She said that under chapter 3 merchandise goods scheme, which has merged into a single scheme. Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS) benefits have been extended to the units located in different Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Double weightage is allowed only for one-star export houses especially for northern eastern states, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim for manufacturing units under Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

While referring to the ‘Make in India’ programme in FTP 2015-2020, she said, “The government is trying to boost the ‘Make in India’ initiative and has reduced export obligation for domestic procurement under Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) scheme. It has been reduced to 75 per cent to promote domestic capital.”

It was also announced that Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) will go online for filing documents by June 30, this year. There are plans to adopt paperless trade application 24X7. It has already introduced single window system, online inter-ministerial consultations where companies need to load one time export / import documents which will be presented as a reference for future activities. There are plans to start an online message exchange with Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT) and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. It will provide detailed information related to foreign trade of other countries’ regulations. With new FTP, SEZs will be entitled to take chapter 3 incentives and LOP will initially be valid for two years to enable the unit to construct plants and install machineries.

Dr Kavita Gupta said, “Fees and charges for processing chapter 3 scrip application will no longer be paid in rupee but in dollars. The earlier policy was governed by the points mentioned earlier and new policy will be governed by new policy specifications.”

Discussions were held on various norms followed by the DGFT and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) and issues related in export consignments. The industry requested Pharmexcil to take the issue more aggressively and convey its message to both the authorities and also streamline the process.

Prof Ajit Shah, Consultant for Export-Import presented a bird’s eye view of FTP 2015-2020. He said, “The good part of the new FTP is that it has incorporated several circulars into the current policy.”

Shah suggested companies should develop an error code system because everything is going online and each day is considered crucial for advance licensing. In this scenario, pharma companies should have National Informatics Centre’s contact details in place and know the process for filing complaints. Simultaneously, companies need to train themselves on advanced online technologies.

Shah said, “Chapter 8 is a real eye opener for me. Now onwards, we have to strengthen our paperwork. Companies need to rework on proforma, invoice, shipping bill, etc. format because our FTP is accessible globally and countries which are importing can easily identify points which are in their favour. I feel if companies need to take help from their lawyers or chartered accountants they should do so before it is to late.”

He further said that though the new FTP is being seen as an obstacle and there are bottlenecks, there are always solutions to overcome problems and move ahead.

Dr K Bangarurajan, Deputy Drugs Controller DDC(I), Central Drug Standards Control Organisation discussed the issues faced by the Indian pharma community. “As a regulator, we come across quality issues which need to be reduced as fast as possible because it is hampering the image of the Indian pharma industry in the global space as well as impacting the individual company’s performance. My advice to all Indian pharma companies is that whenever there is an export order, try to see that product confirms to the pharmacopoeia and additional parameters. Many less regulated pharma companies are also now strengthening their guidelines and procedures, so Indian companies should study all these before before venturing into it.”

Raghuveer Kini, Executive Director, Pharmexcil delivered the vote of thanks and pointed out, “There are many instances when the industry had faced several issues in different countries not because of quality compliance issues but due to data integrity / inadequate documentation. We have initiated several bilateral talks with these countries’ regulatory agencies and hope to have positive outcomes.”

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