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Special Economic Zone - SEZ India


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Special Economic Zone - SEZ India

Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is a specifically designed place where the goods are sold sans duty. At present there eight functional Special Economic Zones in India and are located at Santa Cruz (Maharashtra), Cochin (Kerala), Kandla and Surat (Gujarat), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Falta (West Bengal) and Nodia (Uttar Pradesh) in India. A Special Economic Zone has to be operational soon at Indore (Madhya Pradesh).

In addition 18 approvals have been given for setting up of SEZ at Positra (Gujarat), Navi Mumbai and Kopata (Maharashtra), Nanguneri (Tamil Nadu), Kulpi and Salt Lake (West Bengal), Paradeep and Gopalpur (Orissa), Bhadohi, Kanpur, Moradabad and Greater Noida (U.P.), Vishakhapatnam and Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh), Vallarpadam/Puthuvypeen (Kerala) Hassan (Karnataka), Jaipur and Jodhpur (Rajasthan).

India was among the first ones in Asia to acknowledge the effectiveness of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) model in promoting exports. Asia's first EPZ was set up in Kandla in 1965. Many Policies were announced at different point of time to overcome various shortcomings of trade and finances. They also look to forward to attract larger foreign investments in India.

The SEZ Act aims to generate additional economic activity, promote exports of goods and services, promote investment from domestic and foreign sources, generate employment opportunities and developing infrastructure facilities. In addition developing Special Economic Zones would in turn attract domestic and foreign investment, increase the employment opportunity, exports and infrastructural developments.

Activity in SEZ

Manufacturing / Trading related activities of SEZ include manufacture and trade of Apparel, Garments & Leather, Automobile and Auto Components, Engineering - Light, Heavy & Application, Pharmaceuticals, Food Processing, Telecom Equipment, Computer Hardware & micro- electronics, Consumer Electronics & Appliances, Gems, Jewellery & Diamonds, Wood, Rubber, Plastic & Leather Products & Handicrafts.

SEZ is a home to many service related to IT, Biotechnology, Research & Development, Health Care, Finance, Education, Entertainment, Leisure & Recreation, Sports & Related Activities, Retail, Business Solutions and Warehousing & Trade.

Type of SEZ

Special Economic Zone are classified into four specialized zones, namely,

  1. Free trading and warehousing zone facilitate import of goods and services freely to carry out trade transactions in free currency.

  2. Special Economic Zone for multi-product is the zone where the units are set up for manufacturing or trading and warehousing or rendering of two or more goods in a sector.

  3. Special Economic Zone for specific sector is meant exclusively for one or more products or services in a particular sector.

  4. Special Economic Zone in a port or airport means a Special Economic Zone in an existing port or airport for Special Economic Zone.

Administrative set up

Structurally SEZ has three tier administrative set up. The central apex body is called “The Board of Approval” and is headed by the Secretary, Department of Commerce. The Approval Committee is further divided into different Zones headed by a Development Commissioner, who should be an ex-officio chairperson of the Approval Committee. 

Units are set up in the SEZ once it gets an approval from the Board of Approval and the area for establishing SEZ has been defined. The Zonal Approval Committee consists of Development Commissioner, Customs Authorities and representatives of State Government.

Incentives and facilities offered to the SEZs

The units in SEZs are given many incentives and facilities to attract domestic as well as foreign investment.

They can be summed up as:-

  • Goods are imported without levying any duty and domestic procurement of goods for development, operation and maintenance of SEZ units

  • 100% Income Tax exemption on export income for SEZ units under Section 10AA of the Income Tax Act for first 5 years, 50% for next 5 years thereafter and 50% of the ploughed back export profit for next 5 years.

  • Exemption from minimum alternate tax under section 115JB of the Income Tax Act.

  • External commercial borrowing by SEZ units upto US $ 500 million in a year without any maturity restriction through recognized banking channels.

  • Exemption from Central Sales Tax.

  • Exemption from Service Tax.

  • Single window clearance for Central and State level approvals.

  • Exemption from State sales tax and other levies as extended by the respective State Governments.
The major incentives and facilities available to SEZ developers include:-
  • Exemption from customs/excise duties for development of SEZs for authorized operations approved by the BoA.

  • Income Tax exemption on income derived from the business of development of the SEZ in a block of 10 years in 15 years under Section 80-IAB of the Income Tax Act.

  • Exemption from minimum alternate tax under Section 115 JB of the Income Tax Act.

  • Exemption from dividend distribution tax under Section 115O of the Income Tax Act.

  • Exemption from Central Sales Tax (CST).

  • Exemption from Service Tax (Section 7, 26 and Second Schedule of the SEZ Act).
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