Govt To Amend Foreign Trade Act To Prevent Undue Surge In Imports

New Delhi, Sept 24: | Updated: Sep 25 2003, 05:30am hrs
India is finalising comprehensive amendments to the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992 (FTDR) for taking safeguard action to prevent any sudden surge in imports, thereby protecting the domestic industry. Among others, these amendments will seek to impose duties or quantitative restrictions temporarily under Article XIX of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the Agreement on Safeguards. A Bill incorporating these modifications recommended by a Parliamentary committee is expected to be introduced in the coming session.

Officials explain that the new FTDR Act is getting ready, though there has been no surge in imports of 300 sensitive tariff lines (or items), barring edible oil, in the past few months, following removal of quantitative restrictions (QRs).

They also want to drive home the point that the governments policy has so far been oriented towards protecting the domestic industry only. What about consumers who should also get products of quality at reasonable prices, commerce ministry officials ask.

Further, while imports of edible oil are allowed to improve domestic supplies and keep prices in check, those of oilseed are not being allowed under the current policy. The former will only result in creating jobs in the supplying countries. On the other hand, the second measure, if permitted, will not only improve the refining capacity at home now remaining largely under-utilised but will also lead to more employment at home, officials opine.

India had been autonomously removing import controls since 1980s when a fresh list of items was allowed to be imported under the open general licence (OGL) policy every year. This process gathered momentum during 1991-96. QRs on as many as 6,161 tariff lines were removed on March 31, 1996. Since then, QRs on 1905 tariff lines or imports were dismantled till the beginning of 1999-00. Lifting of QRs on another 714 tariff lines from April 1, 2000 and on 715 tariff lines from April 1, 2001 was part of the on-going import liberalisation, officials pointed out.