The government is considering the industry's demand to allow work from home for all employees of companies based out of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), commerce minister Piyush Goyal said.

Currently, the Centre allows 50% of the overall staff of a company based out of a Special Economic Zones (SEZ) to work from home for a maximum period of one year.

"We had permitted work from home in SEZ units during Covid times. It was appreciated by all and it also helped in pushing our services exports. It was $254 billion last year. This year also there will be a jump in that," Goyal said after the Board of Trade meeting on Tuesday.

The decision comes in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic which forced several companies to offer work from home to employees, especially those who work in the services sector where most of the work can be done online. The government had notified a new rule in July which allowed 50% of the overall staff of a company based out of a Special Economic Zones (SEZ) to work from home.

In July, food delivery platform Swiggy announced a permanent work-from-anywhere policy for the majority of roles. The decision was arrived at based on team needs and feedback from several managers and employees who vouched for the flexibility and increased productivity working from home has given them in the last two years. In April, San Francisco-based vacation rental company Airbnb allowed employees to work from anywhere. Big new-age firms like Twitter, Facebook, Coinbase, Lyft, SAP, and many others have either gone fully or partially remote.

Logistics Policy

Goyal, who chaired the first meeting of the newly reconstituted Board of Trade, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release the national logistics policy on September 17.

The minister further said that global confidence in India's prospects for growth were truly immense and called on the domestic industry to overcome all weaknesses when it comes to grabbing the plethora of growth opportunities available to the nation. "The world is already looking at India as a super power," he added.

Goyal stressed on the need to enter into more free trade agreements (FTAs) with developed nations. He urged participants of the Board of Trade meeting to focus on the possibilities each sector has in FTAs.

The Board of Trade advises the government on policy measures connected with the Foreign Trade Policy in order to achieve the objectives of boosting India's trade.

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