The Customs Department has assured human hair exporters that it will take steps to check smuggling of the product from India to China.

Human hair exporters had sought help from the government to stop the alleged smuggling of raw hair as it was wreaking havoc on their business. The Customs Department said that action will be taken on the information provided by them on the people and custom stations involved.

The Directorate-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), too, is considering the exporters’ plea of restricting exports of raw hair, locally known as goli , to check smuggling, according to exporters.

Sunil Eamani from Indus Hair Extensions, Hyderabad, said: “We have shared with the Customs officials specific information that we had on the individuals smuggling through the borders and under-invoicing their shipments of raw hair to China. We have also pointed out the Customs checkpoint from where the smuggling is happening. The officials have assured us that immediate action will be taken at the appropriate ports.”

While under-invoicing of shipments happens at the Kolkata airport and sea port, smuggling through borders happens at Moreh, at the border with Myanmar, and Champi in Mizoram, Eamani added.

Eamani was part of a delegation of exporters of human hair who met senior officials from the Customs Department and the DGFT on Tuesday to share information on the alleged smuggling and discuss ways to tackle the same. By smuggling hair to China, traders avoid paying 30 per cent import duty in the country. Raw hair is also smuggled to Myanmar as children are employed at very low wages to untangle the hair, exporters said.

“If the government can effectively stop the large-scale smuggling that is taking place, processing within the country will increase and lead to greater employment generation,” said P Sathish Gandhi, a hair exporter based in Chennai.

Indian hair exports, considered to be one of the best in the world for its length and texture, were valued at $229 million in 2017-18, lower than exports worth $341.53 million in 2014. Exporters said lower exports are largely due to the smuggling and under-invoicing of shipments.

One way to stop under-invoicing would be to restrict export of raw hair and fix minimum export price, feel exporters.

“Add raw hair to the list of restricted items to ensure the availability of raw material in India thus enabling making of products in the country and creating lakhs of jobs,” said MM Gupta, Chairman, Human Hair & Hair Products Manufacturers and Exporters Association, in the representation to the DGFT.

The representation also suggested that minimum exportable prices provided every six months by the Human Hair Association be enforced by the Export Inspection Agency.