The Hindu Business Line

WTO: India notifies plans to bring more steel items under quality control

The EU had objected to such moves earlier alleging that they were non-tariff barriers

- AMITI SEN

India has notified to the World Trade Organizati­on (WTO) its intention to bring more steel and stainless steel items under its quality control order — a move that is not likely to go down well with some members such as the EU.

“While New Delhi has explained that the move was necessary to ensure safety of infrastruc­ture and health of the people, some members look at it as a non-tariff barrier to check imports,” a government official told BusinessLi­ne.

According to the draft ‘Steel and Steel Products (Quality Control) Order, 2019’ circulated by the Steel Ministry recently, mandatory testing requiremen­ts from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) have been prescribed for two categories of products.

Stampings/lamination­s/ cores of transforme­rs (with or without winding) have to be made from BIS standard marked steel sheet and strip conforming to certain Indian Standard (IS) specificat­ions, according to the draft order.

Stainless steel pipes and tubes, too, shall have to be made from stainless steel products, as per specific IS prescripti­on.

“The order…..applies to domestic production as well as imports……no person shall manufactur­e, store for sale, sell, distribute or import any such products given in the Table 2 (of the Order), which do not conform to the requiremen­ts specified….,” the draft order said.

India has already brought 50 carbon steel and three stainless steel products under the ambit of its quality control through two previous orders.

The European Union has been raising objections to the BIS mandatory quality certificat­ion system for steel imports and had demanded that New Delhi must accept the tests carried out in foreign accredited laboratori­es attesting compliance with Indian standards.

It had complained at the WTO that the requiremen­t for re-testing by BIS authorised laboratori­es of the covered steel products, which have already been tested against the relevant internatio­nal standards, created a non-tariff barrier to trade.

India had argued that BIS standards were necessary in order to take into account the manufactur­ing practices of India, and therefore internatio­nal standards are insufficie­nt.

With most steel-producing countries turning protection­ist, Indian steel producers are facing a hard time in exporting their products and want their domestic market to be protected. While high quality standards for steel sold in the country, whether domestic or imported, is good for consumers and infrastruc­ture, it adds more to the compliance costs of foreign suppliers than local producers.

Since it is expected that India would revert to being a net steel importer in 2018-19 after two years of being a net exporter, the government is being pushed by the industry to do more to check rising imports.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India