India extends import certification deadline for 14 chemicals, polymers

Priya Jestin


MUMBAI (ICIS)–India has decided to extend once again the deadline for import certification of various chemicals to March-April 2023, giving in to pressure from domestic end-user industries that rely on imported raw materials.

The mandatory Bureau of India Standards (BIS) certification was expanded to cover more chemicals and petrochemical imports in 2019 as a non-tariff barrier against inferior imports.

Enforcement of BIS certification for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), ethylene dichloride (EDC) and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) will be pushed back to 12 March 2023, the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers announced on 2 September.

Certification requirements for paraxylene (PX), polycarbonate, polyurethanes, meanwhile, will take effect on 19 March next year, it said.

For ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) copolymers, linear alkyl benzene (LAB), polyethylene (PE) material for moulding and extrusion, synthetic micro fibres and various types of polyesters, the BIS certification will come into force on 3 April 2023.

For maleic anhydride (MA), styrene (vinyl benzene), acrylonitrile imports, accreditation will kick in on 24 April.

The BIS certification deadlines had been previously postponed for a year amid strong lobbying from domestic players, noting that the mandatory certification could translate to higher cost and delays in deliveries of imports.

In August 2022, India had extended the quality control standards accreditation for imported acetone to 13 March 2023, while BIS implementation for purified terephthalic acid (PTA) was extended from 22 June to 22 December 2022.

The plastics processing industries have been strongly opposed to the mandatory BIS certification, which could have a heavy impact on the exports of finished goods.

High raw material costs continue to plague operational costs for Indian exporters, Plastic Export Promotion Council (Plexconcil) chairman Arvind Goenka said.

“The Indian governments mulling the idea of implementing BIS standards on raw material will probably be the final straw for our industry considering the import dependency on polymers and the high raw material prices as compared to China and other countries,” he added.

“Such trade barriers will cut off the import flow of raw materials into the country,” Plexconcil  executive director Sribash Dasmohapatra said.

“India is not self-sufficient in the manufacture of these products and the BIS certification will make the domestic industry suffer,” he said.

In April-August 2022, the first five months of India’s fiscal year, its plastics exports have declined by 3.5% year on year to $5.44bn.

For the month of August alone, the country’s exported plastics slipped 1.7% year on year to $1.04bn, official data showed.

The statutory imposition of BIS standards will increase cost of production of polymers for Indian processors and will make the domestic plastic processors uncompetitive at a global level, Dasmohapatra said, adding that it could also lead to retaliatory measures.

“Indian companies are exporting their products to over 200 countries while adhering to International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) standards. If India mandates BIS standards for imports, other countries may also impose retaliatory measures which could hamper the export of processed plastics,” he added.

Plexconcil has been petitioning the government to first impose BIS standards on finished goods imports and other value-added plastics.

“We want the government to implement BIS standards on value-added plastics and increase import duties on these goods which will give the Indian producers a level playing field in the domestic market,” Dasmohapatra said.

Value-added plastic imports amounted to $7bn in the fiscal year ending March 2022 compared with $8bn of exports. Such imports will further rise with the imposition of the mandatory standards, he added.

Plexconcil is in talks with other industry bodies and will continue to petition the government to withdraw the BIS notifications, Mohapatra said.

“Until the domestic plastic processing industry can produce enough quantity to supply to the Indian market without fear of crippling cheap imports, we don’t want the government to impose BIS standards on the raw materials,” he added.

Caustic soda was the first chemical to be covered under this certification in April 2018.

Focus article by Priya Jestin


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