The Narendra Modi government is considering beefing up the technical regulation regime in an attempt to curb non-essential imports into the country.
Technical regulations are rules that specify minimum standards on parameters like quality, safety and environment friendless. Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the nodal standards regulator has been tasked by the union commerce ministry to notify at least 5000 technical standards as against the 370 or so that is present currently.
The idea is to allow imports of only those products that conform to technical regulation norms that are being drawn up by BIS. Many countries used standards as a non-tariff measure to regulate imports.
Sources told CNBC-TV18 that commerce ministry has identified 371 tariff lines with high import transaction but is regarded as not essential or products with potential for domestic manufacturing.
These products are spread across seven broad sectors – steel, consumer electronics, telecom equipment, chemicals, cutlery, rubber articles etc and saw $ 127 billion worth of imports at last count.
The list was drawn up after a series of 18 meetings between the department of commerce, department for the promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT), department of chemicals, ministry of electronics and information technology, department of telecommunications as well as steel ministry.
An analysis done by the department of commerce has zeroed in on 46 products from the consumer electronics sector that saw imports worth $ 20.4 billion.
In the telecom equipment segment, 25 products have been identified where $ 17 billion worth of imports were seen. In the heavy machinery category, 53 products have been chosen where imports worth $ 18.2 billion were seen.
In another category comprising rubber articles, toys, plastic sandals, glassware and furniture, 58 products have been shortlisted where imports of $ 14 billion were seen. According to sources, BIS has been asked to immediately focus on this segment for the formulation of technical standards.
Even in the steel segment, 33 products were analysed by trade officials in Udyog Bhawan which saw imports of $ 7.4 billion. Sources also added that BIS has been asked to set up a market surveillance mechanism through which the agency will look at compliance of technical regulations, especially on imported goods.