The Centre has identified 400 products and is working to establish mandatory standards for them.

Sudhanshu Pandey, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, told Business Line on the sidelines of an event organized by CII here on Friday that the Ministry has initiated steps in that direction.

“The exercise involves inter-ministerial interactions and collaborations. It will be a time-consuming process. Later, the Cabinet has to approve the draft standards. The government also needs to involve industry and sector players. We hope to come up with mandatory standards for the identified products some time in 2016-17,” he said.

The mandatory standardisation of products that matches with the international norms is necessary for creation of market access overseas for Indian exporters as well as protecting the Indian market from dumping of substandard products.

Multilateral and bilateral trade agreements are currently paving the way for globally acceptable standards, which are used as non-tariff technical barriers for regulating market access. 

Incentive packages The government was also considering incentive packages for sectors, particularly, food and drug, for upgradation of standards after introduction of mandatory internationally acceptable benchmarks, Pandey said. The Centre is also looking into establishing independent testing, inspection, and accreditation or certification systems and other related infrastructure.

So far, India had primarily voluntary quality, safety and environmental standards. Bureau of Indian Standards has just 133 set mandatory standards for certain categories of products.

There are a few set norms set for certain manufacturing activities by a specific legislation. India also lacks an independent certification agency, as BIS is responsible for setting the standards, certification or accreditation.