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India's safeguard duty move on steel goods inconsistent with certain global trade norms: WTO

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The WTO's dispute panel has said India's move to impose safeguard import duty on some iron and steel products was inconsistent with certain global trade norms.

The ruling comes in the backdrop of Japan dragging India to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against certain measures taken by New Delhi on imports of iron and steel products. The case was filed by Japan in December 2017.

"...Having found that India acted inconsistently with certain provisions of the GATT 1994 and the Agreement in Safeguards, we recommend that, to the extent that the measure continues to have any effects, India bring it into conformity with its obligations under those agreements," the panel said in its ruling.

The duty imposed by India already ended in March this year. As India and Japan failed to resolve the issue in the bilateral consultation process, the WTO had set up the dispute resolution panel earlier this year.

Japan, which is the second largest steel producer in the world, had alleged that duties imposed on steel imports by India violated WTO trade norms. In September 2015, India imposed provisional safeguard duty of 20% on import of certain categories of steel with a view to protect domestic producers. Later, it was reduced and extended till March this year.

The dispute assumes significance as India and Japan implemented a comprehensive free trade agreement in 2011. It gave easy access to Japan in the Indian steel market.

The bilateral trade between the countries stood at USD 15.7 billion in 2017-18. Trade is highly in favour of Japan as the trade deficit stood at about USD 11 billion in that fiscal.

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