Centre to raise with U.S. non-tariff barriers

A bitter pill:Indian pharma exports to the U.S. have been hit by the increase in approval delays.

A bitter pill:Indian pharma exports to the U.S. have been hit by the increase in approval delays.  

‘Curbs affecting exports of goods made in India’

India is planning to take up with the Trump administration the “barriers” imposed by the U.S., which are hurting Indian goods exports to that country in sectors including agriculture, pharmaceuticals and other industrial products.

The U.S. “non-tariff/Sanitary & Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) barriers” include those imposed under laws concerning bio-terrorism, child-labour, national security, ‘Buy America’ norms preferring U.S.-made items and American suppliers in U.S. Government purchases, registration fee hikes (in sectors such as pharma), food safety as well as animal and plant health regulations, according to the Indian Commerce Ministry.

India will raise this issue soon after the new U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) takes charge, official sources said. They said this issue would also be on the agenda of the next India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum (TPF) — the main bilateral platform for discussing and resolving trade and investment issues. The date for the next TPF meeting will be fixed after the new USTR assumes office.

Child labour

According to the Indian Commerce Ministry, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has “arbitrarily” listed 23 items produced in India on the ‘List of Goods Produced by Child Labour or Forced Labour’ — which is in effect a ban on their import.

The Ministry said Indian industry is worried as the reports that the DOL relies upon are “not always accurate.”

The Ministry has also referred to the U.S. Government measures envisaged within an initiative to counter potential terrorist threats to the international maritime container trade system.

This included X-ray scanning of containers exported to U.S., a measure, the ministry said would cause additional costs for Indian exporters across sectors. In addition, the Ministry has cited a law (the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 of the U.S.) allowing American manufacturers to petition for curbing imports from third nations on national security grounds without providing proof from industry.

This is a major Non-Tariff Barrier (NTB) of the U.S. affecting Indian exports across sectors as the law — allowing invocation of ‘national security exceptions’ without having to apply any detailed criteria — in effect restricts foreign competition, the Ministry added.

Pharma exports

Indian pharmaceutical exports to the U.S. are hit by the increase in registration fees, approval delays and low approval rates for registrations mandatory for sale of all new drugs in the U.S.

Also, ayurveda and traditional Indian medicines are hit by the U.S. requirement of clinical trials while the practice of traditional Indian medicine systems such as Siddha and Unani are not allowed by the U.S. Federal Government.

On market access barriers for Indian rice, the ministry said until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registers, approves and fixes a tolerance level for certain pesticide residues, Indian Basmati Rice exports will be hurt owing to import alerts due to the presence of such pesticide residues.

The Ministry has also opposed the U.S. requirement of irradiation treatment and inspection of mangoes prior to shipping from India. The Ministry said this is a time-consuming and costly certification process hurting the competitiveness of Indian mangoes in the U.S. market. Indian grapes, litchis, pomegranates, honey, marine and meat products are also impacted by various U.S. “NTBs”. Besides, the U.S. has imposed countervailing duties on Indian exports, including those by steel and paper industries.

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