Lighting industry flickers as Chinese dumping continues

New Delhi, Oct 28 | Updated: Oct 29 2004, 05:53am hrs
The domestic electric lighting industry is once again facing a threat. If, three years ago significant dumping of compact fluroscent lamps (CFL) from China pushed the lighting industry into a well of darkness, the situation seems no less alarming now, despite laws in place.

According to industry sources, imports of cheap CFLs from China are now finding a way through Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia and other adjoining countries, despite anti dumping duty in place.

Further, a withdrawn notification bringing CFLs under the mandatory Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification mark has sent the industry into a tunnel of darkness.

Cheap Chinese CFL imports are now being circumvented by using bases in countries like Sri Lanka and others that have signed trade agreements with India, Indo Asian Fusegear Ltd chairman and manging director VP Mahendru told FE.

Indo Asian is the largest manufacturer and exporter of CFLs from India.

The government, early this year (February 5, 2004), withdrew the notification which had made BIS certification mandatory for all CFLs. Aimed at blocking import of cheap substandard electrical products, the notification was first issued two years back, but was withdrawn temporarily on February 5, 2004 at industrys request who demanded some more time to be ISI-compliant. There has been no action on the notification since then.

Meanwhile, unorganised CFL exporters are making the most of the situation: CFL imports are believed to have reached Rs 600 crore.

Industry sources say that it is not just the unorganised sector that is importing sub-standard and cheap CFLs from China, but players in the organised sector including companies such as Philips, Surya, Bajaj, Crompton and GE have been importing Chinese products and selling under their brand names.

The recurring loss to the Indian CFL industry and the national exchequer can be saved by making the BIS mark mandatory for all CFLs, whether manufactured in India or imported. This is a standard import policy followed by many countries including China and South Africa, demands Mr Mahendru.