Import Restrictions at WTO: The United States has approached the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with a series of pointed inquiries directed at India, seeking clarification regarding its recent restrictions on the import of laptops and other electronic devices. According to documents made available, the US has raised several crucial questions in an attempt to better understand India’s decision.
Import Restrictions at WTO
The queries put forth by the US cover various aspects of India’s import restrictions. They include inquiries about the rationale behind India’s decision, whether these import curbs would be extended to other categories of goods, the criteria for issuing licenses, and the timeline for notifying the relevant WTO committee about the decision for Import Restrictions at WTO.
India had issued a notification on August 3, categorizing the import of laptops, tablets, all-in-one personal computers, ultra-small form factor computers, and servers as “restricted” imports. This move required companies to apply for a license to import these items, prompting a strong reaction from the electronics industry. Subsequently, the Indian government announced that the restrictions, initially scheduled for immediate implementation, would take effect from November 1.
In its submission to the WTO’s Committee on Import Licensing dated October 18, the US pointed out that, despite India’s subsequent announcement that importers of these electronic goods would only need to register on an “import management system,” the original restrictions and licensing requirements remained unchanged. The US emphasized that the imports in question were still considered “restricted,” and a valid License for Restricted Imports would be required.
ThePrint had previously reported that the changes made to the import licensing system for electronics were primarily semantic, as the imports still remained restricted and necessitated government authorization.
This year has witnessed multiple instances of countries turning to the WTO with questions regarding India’s trade-related measures. In September, ThePrint reported that the US, the UK, the European Union, and several other nations had sought clarifications from India concerning its bans and restrictions on the export of products like wheat, rice, and onions.
The United States raised more questions in its WTO submission, seeking insights into India’s intentions and objectives behind these import licensing requirements. They asked if India had plans to extend the use of import licensing beyond the listed products and inquired about any public notices or requests for public comments prior to the measure’s announcement. Additionally, the US questioned when India would officially notify the Committee on Import Licensing about the steps taken.
Considering the broad scope of the measure and its potential impact on numerous products and trade volume, the US also sought details about the issuance of licenses. They inquired whether the licenses would be issued automatically or on a non-automatic basis, where the Indian government would exercise discretion. Furthermore, the US wanted to know the criteria for approving or denying a license, whether India would prioritize specific industries or sectors, and how India would prevent lengthy and unpredictable delays in the licensing process.
The United States’ extensive set of questions reflects its concerns and desire for transparency regarding India’s recent trade measures, underscoring the importance of a clear and comprehensive understanding of the situation in the international trade arena.