India’s Defence exports have ‘definitely’ grown up over the last six to eight months, Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday, adding measures undertaken by his Ministry are the driving force behind the growth.
Parrikar, who was on a two-day visit to his home State, also said that the Rafale fighter jet deal is expected to be taken up during French Defence Minister’s visit to India later this week. “Many Defence items have been de-listed and export has been opened. During last six to eight months the NOCs (for export) are granted online. There is no complaint… Earlier issuing NOCs used to take months, now we give them within specified time frame. I have been intimated by industries themselves that they have been getting the export NOCs on time, in fact, faster than they expect,” Parrikar said, adding that the actual Defence export figure would be available soon.
Parrikar attributed the growth in Defence exports to the Centre’s ‘Make in India’ policy and de-listing of nearly two-thirds of the items from the Defence Ministry list allowing them for free trade. “When we de-listed the items… the restrictions from Defence Ministry were automatically withdrawn. Almost two third items have been removed from the list, so now you have more items which you can freely manufacture and freely export also,” Parrikar said.
Under the ‘Make in India’ policy, 49 per cent Foreign Direct Investment was permitted in the Defence Sector. On case-to-case basis, the FDI could go up even up to 100 per cent, Parrikar said. Speaking on the long pending negotiations with France over the Dassault manufactured Rafale fighter jets, Parrikar said that with the process now on a Government to Government basis, the deal would work out faster.
The modalities for negotiations are expected to be finalized during the meeting of two Defence Ministers later this week and negotiations are likely to commence this May. “A Government-to-Government committee will be set up, which will then begin negotiations... The negotiations will start anytime in May and we have to conclude them as early as possible,” Parrikar said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to France last month had signed an agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets for $6 billion, while there was no word on the pending deal for 126 Rafale fighter jets. Parrikar also raised hopes for a helicopter manufacturing unit in the State saying that he has asked the officials that a feasibility study be conducted.
“I have told them to conduct a study and submit a preliminary report… What will be the extent of whatever they set up here, whether it is manufacturing of helicopters or whether it is a Repair and Overhauling facility or some component integration, that they will have to decide and get back to me,” Parrikar said. Parrikar had expressed interest to have a helicopter manufacturing unit in Goa soon after being appointed as Defence Minister. “I will speed it up. But such things don’t happen overnight…” he added.