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Key ministries, BIS move to rein in surging imports

NEW DELHI: The government is planning to check rising imports, and a mega exercise is in the works involving various ministries – including steel, chemicals, telecom and heavy industry – and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to stem non-essential imports.

The PMO has set up a committee of secretaries, which has been given six months to differentiate between imports necessary for domestic industry for value add and production, and other non-critical imports. The Department of Commerce has, concurrently, also identified imports that are not properly categorised as per the Harmonized System (HS) of tariffs. Along with the BIS, it also plans to increase the number of technical regulations and market surveillance to keep the inflow of such products in check.

“It is crucial to control such imports, because we have completely become an import-dependent country. We want to give our consumers products that are safe and environment-friendly, and end counterfeiting,” an official aware of the details said.

The departments of telecom, chemicals, industry and heavy industry, and ministries of steel, and electronics and IT deal with the maximum num-ber of imported items, as per commerce department’s analysis. “We need strategies by departments which issue trade regulations. BIS will play acrucial role to stop these unnecessary imports. It needs to strengthen its market surveillance to check for compliance,” the official added.

India’s exports in November touched $25.98 billion while imports were at $38.11billion, leaving a trade deficit of $12.12 billion, compared with a deficit of $11billion in October.

Most of these imported products, termed “others”, do not have HS codes and are tagged along with parts and accessories of categorised goods. Toys, furniture, sports goods and glass items are some of the products in a list of 370-odd items whose import value stands at $127 billion, and on which the department wants technical standards.

Respective departments are likely to cull out a list of items tested and certified by the BIS. The government is likely to evolve standards for at least 300 products in the next three months. The commerce department wants BIS to formulate 5,000 technical regulations against bureau’s less than 500 currently. “These imports are damaging our capital goods industry, especially project imports. HS codes are crucial for such items,” said the official.

There are 371 items whose details have been circulated to their respective ministries, the official added.

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal has said that the government was monitoring import trends of important goods and will take corrective steps to control sudden surges that harm Indian industry, especially due to dumping.

Source: Economic Times