New Delhi: The government has found that increased imports of a key detergent ingredient are hurting Reliance Industries, Tamilnadu Petroproducts and Nirma, and is examining whether safeguard duty should be imposed to protect the domestic industry.
“Prima facie, it is found that increased imports of linear alkyl benzene (LAB) have caused and are threatening to cause serious injury to the domestic producers and therefore, it has been decided to initiate an investigation,” the Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS), Customs and Central Excise has said.
LAB imports have risen from 9,854 tonnes in 2004-05 to 45,505 tonnes in 2007-08. The share of imports in domestic consumption has increased from 3.82% in 2004-05 to 14.05% in 2007-08.
The three main players have said they are operating below their capacity, which led to the closure of units in November.
The three LAB producers are also being supported by the IndianOil Corporation in seeking imposition of safeguard duty for three years on imports from Qatar, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The demand is for a safeguard duty of 20% for the first year, 15% in the second and 10% in the third year.
Joint Commissioner Customs in DGS Ranjit Kumar said his office has sought views from different parties by 20 January, after which the government would decide whether there is a case for imposition of the deterrent duty.