Paper industry frets as India gears up for RCEP talks

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on July 25, 2019 Published on July 25, 2019

Keep paper, paperboard in negative list, says industry body

The paper industry has raised serious concern over duty-free import of paper and paper board proposed under the 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement being negotiated between the 10-member ASEAN, India, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand even as India is formulating strategy for the next round of RCEP negotiations in China.

The Indian Paper Manufacturers Association has called for paper and paperboard to be kept in the Negative List, with no further import tariff concessions, under the proposed RCEP. This was to safeguard the industry’s investment and incentivise it for further growth, said the association.

“The paper industry has made significant investments to ramp-up capacities in the last few years. However, the commercial viability of the investments is being impacted adversely on account of rising imports,” said AS Mehta, President, IPMA.

RCEP countries want India to eliminate import duties to tap the growing domestic market. The domestic industry needs to be safeguarded due to escalating imports from China and ASEAN countries.

Domestic worries

Unbridled duty-free imports under RCEP will disrupt industry’s value chain linkages with farmers which has led to enhanced rural incomes, employment and greening of India.

Already, basic customs duty (BCD) on paper and paperboard stands at nil under India-ASEAN FTA and India-Korea CEPA. Further, under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), India extended import tariff concessions to the world’s largest paper producer China and reduced BCD to 7 per cent from 10 per cent on most grades of paper.

On the other hand, large paper markets such as the US and EU have imposed anti-dumping duties on paper and paperboard originating from some of these countries, said Rohit Pandit, Secretary-General, IPMA.

In the last eight years, imports have grown at a compound annual rate of 14 per cent to 1.48 million tonnes last fiscal from 0.54 mt in 2010-11 and in value terms it was up 13 per cent to ₹9,134 crore last fiscal from ₹3,411 crore in 2010-11.

In the same period, imports from ASEAN and South Korea, with whom India has FTAs, has increased at a CAGR of 34 per cent and 42 per cent in volume terms.

Most of the exporting countries have excess paper manufacturing capacity as they have access to cheap domestic raw material due to conducive plantation policies and cheap energy, unlike India, said Pandit.

Published on July 25, 2019

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.