US, Singapore, Taiwan seek to join consultations in WTO dispute over India’s tariffs on ICT goods

New Delhi, Apr 23 (PTI) The US, Singapore and Chinese Taipei have Tuesday expressed their interest to join consultations sought by the European Union under the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism against India’s import duties on certain ICT products, including mobile phones.

In the first week of this month, the European Union (EU) dragged India into the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism over imposition of import duties on these products, alleging breach of global trade norms.

The EU has challenged introduction of import duties on a wide range of information and communications technology (ICT) products, for instance, mobile phones and components, base stations, integrated circuits and optical instruments.

Seeking consultation is the first step of dispute settlement process as per the WTO rules. If the consultations requested with both India and EU do not result in a satisfactory solution, the EU can request that the WTO sets up a panel in the case to rule on the issue raised.
The US, Singapore and Chinese Taipei in separate communications to the WTO have said that they have substantial trade interest in these consultations as they are major players in the ICT sector.

The US said it is a significant exporter of goods in the ICT sector in the categories of products mentioned in the EU’s request.

It said the US exports of these goods to India were valued at about USD 490 million in 2018.

“As such, the US considers that it has a substantial trade interest and requests to be joined in these consultations,” the WTO communication said.

Similarly, Singapore has stated that it desires to be joined in India’s consultations with the EU “because Singapore, as one of the world’s largest exporter of ICT products, with export value of USD 120 billion annually, has substantial trade interest in this matter”.

Chinese Taipei or Taiwan also said the separate customs territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu has a substantial trade interest in ICT goods.

“I looks forward to receiving confirmation of acceptance of this request, as well as advice regarding the time and venue for these consultations,” it has said in its communication to the Geneva-based WTO.

The EU has requested consultations with India under WTO rules governing the settlement of disputes with regard to the tariff treatment that the country accords to certain goods in the ICT sector.

“Despite its (India) earlier legally binding commitment in the WTO not to charge any duties on these products, India has been applying duties ranging from 7.5 per cent to 20 per cent. These import duties are therefore in clear breach by India of WTO rules. The levies affect EU exports worth Euro 600 million per year,” the EU has said.

As per the WTO rules, these three countries would have to seek approval from India and EU to join the consultation process.

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