New Delhi: India has banned the import of mobile phones without a unique international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) number.
The government also extended a ban on import of Chinese toys and dairy products that do not meet health standards by another six months.
The directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT), which operates under the commerce and industry ministry, said the ban on mobile phones without an IMEI number comes into effect immediately.
An IMEI number—a 15-17 digit number unique to mobile phones that use the global system for mobile communications (GSM) technology platform—is used to identify a device on a cellphone network. Chinese handsets without IMEI numbers account for about 13% of India’s annual Rs30,000-crore mobile phone market, according to industry estimates.
Tough rules: India also extended till January a ban on the import of Chinese toys and dairy products that don’t meet health standards. Nelson Ching / Bloomberg
In January, the department of telecom had asked operators to bar services to phones without an IMEI number, citing security reasons. Users of instruments which didn’t have an IMEI number were later allowed to obtain a number by paying Rs180 to their operator.
“The impact (of the ban) on the market has been minimised with the government allowing the operators to issue IMEI numbers to subscribers with handsets that do not have IMEI numbers,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst, Gartner Inc.
The ban on import of toys that do not meet international safety standards—previously confined only to China—has now been extended to all other countries till January 2010. India had prohibited import of toys from China on health grounds in January. The restriction was eased in March for Chinese toys that met international safety standards.
The DGFT said imports of toys accompanied by a certificate from laboratories accredited to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation or Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation Mutual Recognition Arrangement would be allowed.
The ban on Chinese milk and milk products including chocolates and confectionary has been extended for six months starting 24 June. India had imposed the ban on such products in September 2008 for three months and later extended it for another six months. This is a preventive step as India’s import of dairy products from China is negligible.
Many Asian and European countries have banned the import of dairy products from China after 53,000 infants fell ill last year due to a chemical called melamine that was found in the milk products.