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Braving pandemic, VSEZ puts up good show

The zone recorded 11.26% increase in exports so far

VSEZ Development Commissioner ARM Reddy

VSEZ Development Commissioner ARM Reddy

Visakapatnam: The pandemic impact notwithstanding, the Visakhapatnam Special Economic Zone (VSEZ) has achieved exports to the tune of Rs 74,376 crore (as on December 31) during the current fiscal.

The zone recorded an increase of 11.26 per cent in the exports so far. VSEZ recorded growth in merchandise (17.96 per cent) and under services sector (8.16 per cent). It has provided employment to 3.93 lakh.

VSEZ has under its control 61 out of a total of 253 SEZs in India fully operational, with 526 units spread over Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Chattisgarh. The zone had achieved exports to the tune of Rs 96, 886 crore amounting to 12.3 per cent of India's exports from seven zones during 2019-20. It had posted an export growth of 32.79 per cent compared to 2018-19, which was the highest among all the zones of the country, VSEZ Development Commissioner ARM Reddy told Bizz Buzz.

Under the jurisdiction of VSEZ, there are 13 SEZs run by State-owned agencies like AP Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) and Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (TSIIC) viz. seven in Telangana and six in AP.

VSEZ was established at Visakhapatnam, as Visakhapatnam Export Processing Zone (VEPZ) spread over 360.5 acre in 1989 by the Government of India. Later, with the promulgation of SEZ Act and Rules in 2005 & 2006, VSEZ came into existence with its jurisdiction over AP, Telangana and Chattisgarh, Yanam (part of Puducherry UT). VSEZ, headed by the Development Commissioner, is mandated to look after the set-up, operation and regulation of SEZs in these States and Yanam, which is near Kakinada.

"If we look at the country's perspective, SEZs on the whole earn Rs 7.86 lakh crore foreign exchange, and provide direct employment to 22.15 lakh people directly, with an investment of Rs 5.75 lakh crore.

SEZs in the country as such contribute to little more than, 1/3 rd of the total exports out of total Rs 23.1 trillion," he informed.

He said the number of units set up in 2019-20 was a record by all means at VSEZ during 2019-20. He observed that the performance of SEZs in AP is not very encouraging and needs more push and patronage. Despite the lockdown, the reduction in employment under VSEZ was just less than 1 per cent. Now after lockdown, the employment has increased by more than 5.6 per cent over last year.

During 2020-21 the growth was very good in the sectors of computer/electronics followed by pharmaceuticals. He said the VSEZ at Duvvada and AP Special Economic Zone (APSEZ), Atchutapuram were doing extremely well. Reddy said despite lockdown for the industries for nearly 60 days, the SEZ units and EOUs (export oriented units) earned good foreign exchange reserves. During lockdown, 489 SEZ units were made operational quickly after observing strict SOPs. By the end of May, 21.32 per cent of the total employees (i.e. 3.79 lakh) were working from units leaving a phenomenal 3 lakh employees to work from home.

Referring to successful SEZs, he said Apache SEZ was making shoes of Adidas brand to the tune of 1.50 crore pairs in a year, located in Tada in AP. Apache achieved an export of Rs 982.54 crore during 2019-20.

The contribution to exports from this sector is less than one percent of total exports. There are three operating units at VSEZ at Duvvada, which are into job work of sorting, polishing and cutting of diamonds. These units all put together have shown a growth in exports by 16 per cent during the current year ending December 31 compared to last year.

"Thus, all the industries under VSEZ, which are contributing 90.5 per cent of the exports, achieved a positive growth and the overall growth in exports is in double-digit i.e. 11.77 per cent. But still, more incentives to SEZ developers from States will boost the exports and generate more employment to the people of AP and Telangana, he observed.

Santosh Patnaik
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