India in protectionist mode; fast-tracks dumping probes on Chinese goods

Author: Priya Jestin

2020/06/19

MUMBAI (ICIS)--India is in the process of fast-tracking dumping investigations into more than 100 products from China to protect its domestic industries amid the coronavirus pandemic, continuing to treat the northeast Asian giant as a “non-market economy”.

By keeping China’s status as such, India can impose steep antidumping duties (ADDs) on Chinese products, government sources said.

Under the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) definition, a “non-market economy” refers to a country with a monopoly over its trade which allows the state to fix domestic prices of products.

“Currently, ADD investigations are ongoing into imports of over 100 goods from China,” an official at India’s commerce ministry said, adding that goods on which duties were set to expire in the current calendar year were also being examined.

These include sodium citrate, USB flash drives, calculators, hot-rolled flat products of stainless steel, Vitamin C and E, nylon tyre cord, measuring tapes, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and flax fabrics, the official said.

Caustic soda, float glass, tableware, kitchenware, plastic processing machinery, ciprofloxacin hydrochloride and solar cells are also in the list.

In a recommendation to impose ADDs on aniline imports from China dated 12 June 2020, the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) stated that India will continue to treat China as a “non-market economy”.

Aniline joined the current list of Chinese products slapped with ADDs in India. For cargoes from Chinese producer Wanhua Chemical Group, a $65.91/tonne ADD rate will apply, while a higher rate of $150.80/tonne will apply to imports from all the other producers in China.

The government initiated the aniline ADD probe on the petition of Indian producer Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals (GNVFC).

“The Authority (DGTR) notes that in the past three years, China PR (People’s Republic of China) has been treated as a non-market economy country in anti-dumping investigations by India and other WTO members,” DGTR said, adding that it would continue to do so in present investigations.

As of February 2020, India had imposed ADDs on nearly 90 items imported from China, with 24 more probes under way, according to India’s commerce minister Piyush Goyal.

India mostly imports engineering goods, electronics, organic chemicals, plastics, and fertilizers from China.

In April 2019-February 2020, total imports from China stood at $62.4bn, bringing India’s trade deficit with it at $46.8bn, according to official data.

China is the largest source of Indian imports during the 11-month period, accounting for 14.3% of the total, followed by the US with a 7.5% share.

Imports of organic chemicals from China stood at $7.53bn, while those of plastics totaled $2.58bn for the period.

In the fiscal year ending March 2020, ADDs were proposed on a host of products from China, including self-adhesive polyvinyl chloride (PVC) film, acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR), polyester yarn and phthalic anhydride.

Carbon black, caustic soda, chlorinated PVC, nylon tyre cord, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), nylon filament yarn and fluoroelastomers were also covered.

India, an emerging market giant in Asia, had opted out of the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on concerns about increased incidences of dumping when the trade pact comes into force.

In the 2018-19 fiscal year, India’s trade deficit with all the 16 member countries of the RCEP stood at $105bn.

Focus article by Priya Jestin

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