India ready to study EU plea for waiver from re-testing of stainless steel imports

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on July 28, 2019

India has said that it is ready to look into a request made by the EU for exemption of ‘low-risk’ stainless steel product imports from compulsory re-testing requirement in BIS-authorised laboratories. But it has dismissed the suggestion made by the bloc that their steel mills with ISO 9001 quality management system in place should be exempt from the requirement of factory inspections.

“Regarding exemption to low-risk stainless steel products (from testing requirement in BIS-certified labs), we had a bilateral meeting with the EU delegation, and my delegation has sought information from the EU to provide a list of such products which it considers low-risk with necessary technical justification,” India’s representative said in a statement at the recent meeting of the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade at the WTO. India has 50 carbon steel and three stainless steel products under the ambit of its quality control, and plans to add more.

The EU has been demanding that India accept tests carried out in foreign accredited laboratories attesting compliance with ISO standards (Indian standards) and stop conducting factory inspections in the EU steel mills having in place quality management system (QMS) as defined in ISO 9001.

QMS certification

In its latest submission, India rejected the request arguing that product certification was different from QMS certification. “The visit to the factory premises and verification and testing in the factory, is a part of the BIS Conformity Assessment Scheme. On the other hand, ISO 9001 certification does not cover factory testing as per Indian standards…. Hence, such inspections are essential,” India’s statement said.

It was, however, pointed out that BIS Laboratory Recognition Scheme has a provision for recognition of overseas laboratories. “The recognition of the foreign laboratories will be carried out on a reciprocal and mutually beneficial basis,” the statement said.

The EU has been alleging that India’s measures on steel are basically non-tariff barriers, but New Delhi has been rejecting the charge. Interestingly, countries across the globe have been taking various measures to support their domestic steel industry.

On the need for the measure and requirement of re-testing, India reiterated that the quality of stainless steel is of utmost importance as it involves public health, safety and security.

Published on July 28, 2019

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