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    India says no to inclusion of more items in WTO list by US, EU

    Synopsis

    Govt is of the view that inclusion of more items in the list would have an adverse impact on the "fledgling" domestic industry.

    Govt is of the view that inclusion of more items in the list would have an adverse impact on the "fledgling" domestic industry.
    NEW DELHI: India has opposed a move by the US and the European Union to expand the list of electronic items under the World Trade Organisation's IT Agreement, which will result in elimination of import duties on mobile handsets, printers, fax machines and consumer electronic goods.

    The government is of the view that inclusion of more items in the list would have an adverse impact on the "fledgling" domestic industry.

    "India placed on record its serious reservations on this matter at ITA committee's meeting in Geneva late last week," a WTO official said. "It said that in consultations with stakeholders, it sees problems regarding relevance of the proposed products, their multiple uses and possible difficulties in processing at customs."

    South Korea along with the US and EU are pushing for inclusion of these items in the ITA's product list. They have sought negotiations on the issue when talks begin on the second instalment of ITA from January.

    The existing ITA was signed between 29 WTO members, including India, in 1996. The membership has since increased to 70. The original agreement sought to eliminate import duties on 217 items like parts of microscope, semi-conductor equipment, spraying appliances and other laboratory instruments. India claims that its industry was hit by the decision to eliminate duties on these products.

    "As per government's estimates, India's share in world trade of these items came down from 0.3% to 0.2% after signing the agreement," an Indian government official said.

    The commerce department had extensive discussions with the department of IT as well as the Planning Commission on whether it should be a signatory to the proposed second tranche of the ITA. The common wisdom was that India would not gain from it, the official said.

    "Since the ITA-2 talks about adding 357 items like mobile sets, printers, fax machines, flat screen TVs and consumer electronics, there is an apprehension that it may affect our fledgling domestic industry. The broad message that emerged from our internal consultation is that we should be very careful before taking on additional commitments," the official said.

    Nicaragua and El Salvador are other ITA members that expressed their reservation on expansion of the agreement and said the matter was still under consideration in their countries.

    South Korea, however, reported some progress on technical discussions it hosted early last week on expanding the product coverage of the ITA. It said that as many as 17 participating members are moving towards more discussions and that a revised consolidated list of products proposed for inclusion in ITA expansion would be circulated in mid-December.

    The US asked delegations to examine the next version of the product list and be prepared to negotiate in January. Japan, the EU and Costa Rica were other members that expressed support.
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