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Home / News / India /  India’s import licensing requirements are meant to ensure fair and equitable trade: Piyush Goyal

Trade minister Piyush Goyal on Monday took on companies and countries opposing licensing requirements made mandatory for import of several products such as automobile tyres and television sets, holding that government is trying to ensure fair and reciprocal trade with other trading partners.

Acknowledging the criticism that government is becoming protectionist and going back to the license raj era, Goyal said such criticism shocks him as currently trade is not being carried out among equals. “What we are trying to do is make sure our domestic industry gets a fair play. How can it be that one country does not allow tyres to be exported to them but wants free imports of tyres from that country into India? There has to be equal, fair and reciprocal arrangement. If other countries are desirous of 1.3 billion- Indian market opportunity, they will also have to give our country’s businesses equal opportunity to engage in their countries. They can’t put overarching technical barriers or overarching regulations on our products and then complain if we put any standards in our country," Goyal said speaking at an event organized by industry lobby FICCI.

On 12 June, India put import of new pneumatic tyres under restricted list, to limit their imports especially from China. In FY20, India imported new pneumatic tyres worth $370 mn with China ($93 mn) and Thailand ($95 mn) contributing the larger chunk of it.

Mint on 22 July reported that to avert a possible halt in production, German automakers have come together to seek help from Germany’s envoy to resolve the issue of tyre imports. A meeting in this regard took place in June between government officials and the German embassy.

Hinting towards Germany’s objection, Goyal said he is amazed some countries in Europe are complaining about technical standards put on tyres in India. “I can list out 5000 items on which technical standards are being put in their countries. Why should India not have the right to put technical standards? It is important that all those who are opposing the efforts of Indian government about our actions should first talk to their own governments and make sure that their governments ensure Indian products fair and equitable access before they make complain about India," he added.

Goyal said multinational companies who have invested in India can’t claim the right to import in an unbridled manner. “I fail to understand how that can be a matter of right. If they have invested in India and they want to engage with the Indian market, I believe they should look at indigenizing particularly those items that India has capabilities. We don’t get excited only by an investment which is brought into India to capture Indian market, to save some import duties on finished product, and come to India only to assemble those products," he added.

“I think they should in a phased manner look at sourcing from India, developing their products in India and then encash a large business opportunity that 1.3 billion Indians are offering to businesses across the world. We invite businesses, we are encouraging investments, we want to allow free flow of goods but it has to be reciprocal. It can’t be one sided"

Referring to the free trade agreements (FTAs) signed by the Congress-led UPA government with ASEAN, Japan and South Korea, Goyal said he is finding complete asymmetries in these trade deals. “We find non-tariff barriers being put up to not allow Indian exporters take benefits of the FTAs whereas large quantities of products are coming into India through the FTAs without adequate protection for Indian industry in India. We are moving towards balanced trade with more and more countries and regions. This was one of the reasons India chose not to join RCEP when we found that it was a completely inequitable arrangement that was sought to be made," he added.

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