Import curbs probably in more than 350 items to boost Make in India

NEW DELHI: The government has identified more than 350 non-essential imports, ranging from toys and textile products to footwear and electronic products, on which it intends to initiate a series of measures, including an increase in customs duties in addition to the implementation of quality control orders to reduce shipments to the country and encourage national manufacturing.

In addition, departments are studying suggestions to waive the global bidding requirement for public procurement in sectors where they believe there is sufficient internal capacity to execute a contract, sources told TOI. Several ministries, such as textiles, electronics and information technology, commerce and industry, have been asked to initiate actions on the identified list of products.

As part of the initiative, public sector companies may also be asked to list their product requirements and specifications for the next five to six years so that the national industry knows the demand and plans accordingly. So, if the standard changes, Indian manufacturers can adjust their production accordingly, an official explained.

The measures are part of the government's drive towards the Make-in-India scheme, for which it has been working on ways to discourage imports.

Certain increases in import duties are likely to be announced in Budget

Until now, it has relied heavily on an increase in import tariffs for a large number of products, including televisions and mobile phones, which the government believes has helped boost domestic manufacturing. Ministers have repeatedly pointed out the production and national assembly of mobile phones in recent years as a result of this policy. Similarly, it has restricted the import of raw material for agarbattis, although a section of the national industry is not happy with the decision.

In the future, the government intends to follow the plan vigorously and will first be a quality control order for toys, such as dolls. Some of the tax increases are expected to be announced in the budget, although officials do not rule out the midterm correction.

The sources said that in segments such as electronics, the list will be carefully prepared, recognizing that imports of certain products should be discouraged. A large part of India's trade deficit is now due to the importation of electronic products and the government believes that the decision to sign the first Information Technology Agreement of the World Trade Organization, which allows duty-free importation of Several electronic products, was responsible for it.

Authorities said the government will simultaneously follow a strategy to seek investments from international actors to locate manufacturing facilities in the country.

However, several economists have warned against the use of high import tariffs as a tool to restrict imports, arguing that it negatively impacts the consumer, who has to pay more. In addition, inefficient domestic manufacturers obtain protection.