India’s ICT products Tariff Consultations in WTO
The European Union (EU), China, and Thailand have expressed their intent to join consultations in a case at the WTO against India’s import duties on certain information and communication technology products, including mobile phone which was filed by Japan. Earlier Singapore, Canada and Chinese Taipei had expressed their interest to join the dispute consultation on the same issue.
What is the case against India?
On May 14th Japan has sought consultations with India under the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism over the import duties imposed on certain electronic goods. Japan alleged that:
- Since the announcement of ‘Make in India’ campaign, India has continuously and systematically increased the import duties on a wide range of products in various sectors, such as electronics systems, mining, automobiles, renewable energy, defence manufacturing, food, processing, automobile components, and textiles and garments.
- The tariffs were aimed at incentivising domestic value addition and were inconsistent with WTO norms.
- The import duties were in excess of bound rates (a ceiling of import duty beyond which a WTO member country cannot go).
WTO Dispute Consultation Process
The request for consultations is the first step in a dispute under the WTO dispute settlement process. It gives parties an opportunity to discuss the matter and find a satisfactory solution without proceeding further with litigation. If consultations fail to resolve the dispute within 60 days, the complainant may request adjudication by a panel.