India can’t impose a blanket ban on all imports from China, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday.
But it is possible to introduce anti-dumping duties and safeguard mechanisms on certain products to protect consumers and producers based on factual evidence, she said.
Her remarks assume significance in context of a growing popular clamour to boycott Chinese goods in view of its stance on India’s security concerns. Though trade between the two Asian economies declined from more than $72 billion in 2014-15 to $70.7 billion in 2015-16, India’s trade deficit with China rose to $52.68 billion from $48.48 billion in 2014-15.
“Whatever the reason, we don’t have any mechanism to stop imports from just one specific country. Today, reason may be A, B or C and if we want to stop imports from just that country, this is not possible,” Ms. Sitharaman said in response to a query on curbing imports from China.
“A blanket ban on all imports from a country through a single instrument is impossible,” she said.
“But if some imports from that country have to be deterred, because it is giving too much subsidies on these products or if there are quality issues, then we have some instruments to stop such imports,” she said, referring to tools such as anti-dumping duties, safeguard measures and import standards to keep out lower quality goods.
“Wherever industry or consumer lobby with information and facts about standards not being followed or products being unsafe and could hurt our children and consumers, then we can invoke standards and stop such imports,” the minister explained. “But you can’t put anti-dumping duty on all products of a country,” she emphasised.
As per the procedure for imposing anti-dumping duties, affected industries have to give the government data on the imports of specific products with the tariff codes.
“Then we investigate and if facts are proven, then those items, we can impose an anti-dumping duty,” Ms. Sitharaman said.
The minister held ‘intense’ bilateral negotiations with her Chinese counterpart on allowing Indian IT and pharma companies to access the Chinese market, which she stressed can have a ‘substantial, considerable and desirable’ impact on addressing the trade imbalance between the two nations.
“I have been raising these issues since June 2014 but today, I am happy to say that the minister did take cognisance of all of them, explained some and said he will do the maximum to open markets within China,” the minister said.
The Chinese are interested in generic drugs from Indian producers but haven’t yet made it easy for such firms to operate there. “”Our pharma companies have been recognised by the US FDA and EU authorities… why would it take so long for Chinese authorities to do so?”