Chinese Taipei has launched a trade dispute against India at the World Trade Organization complaining that New Delhi has failed to comply with its bound scheduled commitments on imports of certain information and communications technology goods, including several products such as pharmaceutical glassware, machines used for manufacture of semiconductors boules (wafers) and telephone sets among others.
In its dispute settlement compliant lodged with the WTO on 2 September, Taipei has targeted various other products on which India has imposed higher customs duties beyond its scheduled tariff commitments. The products include microphones, transmission apparatus for radio broadcasting, parts used in television cameras, electronic integrated circuits insulated wire, oscilloscopes and measuring or checking instruments.
Taipei cited India’s budgetary tariff hikes in 2007-2008, 2014-15, and 2018-19 to buttress its case that New Delhi violated various provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, especially Article II:1 (a) concerning the obligation to maintain tariffs according to bound levels.
Joining the European Union, which had already launched the same dispute against India’s budgetary tariff hikes on ITA products in April this year, Taipei too claimed that India’s applied tariffs on various ITA products “clearly exceed the bound rate in India’s schedule (of tariffs at the WTO), which is set at zero per cent."
As a first step, Taipei has called India to enter into what are called Article 4 consultations within the next 30 days to address its specific charges. If the two sides fail to reach an amicable agreement after the consultations, then, the EU can call for establishing a dispute settlement panel to adjudicate on India’s customs duties.
Last year, several WTO members had had complained that the customs duties imposed by New Delhi on mobile phones and other gadgets were in access of its bound tariff commitments. More than six six countries had maintained that excess duties and restrictive measures imposed on ICT products following the sudden spike in trade and current account deficits are said to be inconsistent with India’s scheduled commitments in the Information Technology Agreement (ITA).
India, which is a signatory to the ITA, which came into force on 1 July 1997, is required to eliminate tariffs on ICT products, including mobile phones, the six countries had complained.
India, however, had dismissed these complaints saying that the IT goods in question did not fall under the ITA. New Delhi had repeatedly argued that that IT and telecom technologies have evolved with new applications and equipment, which were neither existent nor even conceived at the time of signing the ITA-I in December 1996, at the WTO’s first trade ministerial meeting in Singapore.