India poses barriers to American trade: USTR

PTI Posted online: Tuesday, Apr 01, 2014 at 0000 hrs
Washington : Indian policies pose barriers to American trade and the US will keep pressing India to remove obstacles to smoothen business relation, says a USTR report.

Noting that it is holding talks with India both at bilateral and the World Trade Organisation level, the 2014 report of the UN Trade Representative (USTR) on "Technical Barriers to Trade" listed out some of the issues obstructing trade relations.

Indian policies on wholesale foods labelling, security regulations on telecom equipment, safety testing requirements for electronics and IT equipment and proposed amendment to the hazardous waste act as trade barriers, the report said.

"The United States will continue to press India to resolve these issues in 2014," the USTR said in its annual report released on Monday.

According to the report, the proposed Fifth Amendment to the Hazardous Waste Act, published in November 2013, but not notified to the WTO, sets out conditions for the import and movement of used and refurbished electrical and electronic equipment (EEE).

"The United States fully supports the protection of the environment and health against adverse impacts of wastes.

"US industry has expressed concerns that, under the proposed Fifth Amendment, hazardous waste controls on imports of used EEE for direct reuse and imports of refurbished EEE pursuant to a service warranty, and other similar controls on EEE, would impose unnecessary burdens on trade that facilitates reuse and extension of life of EEE to the benefit of the environment," it said.

US electronics and IT goods manufacturers have raised concerns about the Indian Department of Electronics and Information Technology's (DEITY) September 2012 order that mandates compulsory registration for 15 categories of imported electronic and IT goods, it said.

The policy, originally set to take effect from April 2013, mandates exporters to register their products with laboratories affiliated or certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). (MORE) PTI LKJ MKJ TVS RAH 04011134

"This is despite the fact that all US electronic exports currently sold in India are fully certified in internationally recognised laboratories, and the government of India has never articulated how such a domestic certification requirement advances India's legitimate public safety objectives," the USTR report said.

"Notwithstanding ongoing efforts by global industry to engage the government of India to resolve concerns and ambiguities in the policy without undermining those objectives, the Order entered into force in January 2014," it said.

"Although US industry would ultimately like to see the entire policy repealed, an important first step is to seek an exemption for Highly Specialised Equipment (HSE), including servers, storage, printing machines, and IT products that are installed, operated, and maintained by professionals who are trained to manage the product's inherent safety risks, the report said.

USTR said the United States will continue to seek clarification on the scope and application of the revised Preferential Market Access (PMA) policy for domestically manufactured telecommunications equipment and closely monitor its implementation in 2014.

The United States, it said, has detailed concerns about 'onerous' India-specific labelling issues in previous TBT Reports since the FSSR were published in India's Gazette in 2011.

India's responses have failed to provide additional or reliable information with regard to how the elements of this measure advances safety or efficacy or quality of the products in question or meets the specific needs of India, the report said.

The Legal Metrology Rules create mandatory package sizes in metric units excluding many US food products from the market since they are packaged in traditional English units (fluid ounces, pounds and pints), it said.

Highly impacted commodities include canned and bottled drinks, packaged biscuits and bottled vegetable oils.

Mandatory package size requirements are not recommended by international standards, it said.

Net weight declaration, supported by Codex and other international bodies, better protects consumers from fraudulent packaging practices, the report said.