US team to visit India, lobby for roll-back of import duties on mobiles, ICT products

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2019 Published on January 09, 2019

The US has argued at the WTO that the duties imposed by India on mobile phones and other ICT products go against its multilateral commitments   -  P_V_SIVAKUMAR

Meeting scheduled with officials from the Ministry of Electronics and IT on January 24

A team of US officials will be in India later this month to discuss the import duties levied or raised by the Centre last year on smartphones, base stations, smart watches, printer ink cartridges and other ICT products and lobby for their removal.

“The US officials are scheduled to meet Indian officials from the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY). The US has already argued at the World Trade Organization that the duties imposed by India on mobile phones and other ICT products go against its multilateral commitments,” a government official told BusinessLine. The meeting is scheduled on January 24.

India levied customs duty on mobile phones and some other ICT items at 10 per cent for the first time in July 2017 and later increased it to 15 per cent that year. Despite protests from a number of WTO members, including the US, the EU and Japan, customs duties on mobiles were further increased to 20 per cent in last year’s Budget.

Hike in duty

In October, India increased basic customs duty on several telecom equipment and imposed duties on printed circuit boards used to make the equipment and several other telecom products.

“The import duties on telecom products were imposed to keep a check on current account deficit by curbing inflow of non-essential items. It is also in line with the government’s ‘Make in India’ policy,” the official said.

The US, however, argued at the WTO that most of the items, including mobile phones, were included in the IT Agreement (ITA) of the WTO and tariffs were supposed to be nil on these. Both India and the US are part of the ITA signed by countries in 1996.

“MeitY is not in favour of removal of the import tariffs as it feels that domestic manufacturers need protection. India has also argued at the WTO that the ICT items do not fall under the ITA because many of them, including smartphones, had evolved over the last two decades and had not been designed in 1996,” the official said.

The US, however, is not ready to buy the argument. “The US team of officials will try to convince the MeitY to remove the import tariffs on mobiles and the other ICT products and may also indicate if it was planning to file a dispute at the WTO against the move,” the official said.

Published on January 09, 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.