Hair smuggling: Commerce ministry asks CBIC to harden crackdown

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New Delhi | Published: June 21, 2019 1:30:16 AM

The smuggling of raw hair, first to Myanmar, offers an advantage to Chinese companies, who purchase it from their associates in Myanmar.

The human hair export business is creating jobs in some of the poor districts of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. (PTI/File Photo)

Amid a sharp rise in instances of hair smuggling to China that has squeezed raw material supplies for Indian exporters of hair products, the commerce ministry has asked the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs as well as the anti-smuggling unit to take appropriate action. The government is also weighing in the exporters’ proposal to restrict the export of raw hair to ease supplies for them.

Sunil Eamani of Indus Hair Extensions, who is spearheading exporters’ efforts to crackdown on smuggling said, “India’s export value of un-worked human hair has dropped to just $248.10 million in 2018, compared with $341.53 million in 2014 even when both volume and prices of the products have gone up.”

Under-invoicing of shipments is rampant, and the large-scale smuggling through the Aizawl and Moreh borders is making the matter worse, he added.

In a letter to the commerce ministry in April, Benjamin Cherian, president of the Human Hair & Hair Products Manufacturers and Exporters Association of India, said, “By under-invoicing, human hair is being exported at a very cheap rate from Tiruchi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai. Chinese nationals come with visitor’s visa and buy raw hair and export in tonne through unscrupulous traders. They also export by air under fake names.” By smuggling hair, traders avoid paying as much as a 30% import duty in China, which, ultimately, makes their products more competitive in the global market as well.

The smuggling of raw hair, first to Myanmar, offers an advantage to Chinese companies, who purchase it from their associates in Myanmar. This is because a large number of young children, who are paid as little as Rs 12 a day, are employed in Myanmar to untangle the hair, raising the profit margins of traders.

The human hair export business is creating jobs in some of the poor districts of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, having employed huge number of women to untangle human hairs at clusters, said Eamani. The hair is then exported to various countries to be converted into wigs and hair-extension products.

Eamani was part of a delegation of human hair exporters who met senior officials from the customs department and the DGFT last month to share inputs on smuggling and discuss ways to tackle the same.

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