As per a leading daily report, in the last two years customs duty on a huge 400 items has been raised. Some of the products in the list include solar panels, apple, cell phone spares and parts, almonds, mobile phones etc. Nonetheless, the policy of lowering import duty being followed by previous government is strictly moved away from the current government in power.
According to the report, in the earlier years customs duty on non-agriculture items was slashed to 40% on 1997-1998 from 150% in 1991-1992 and thereafter lowered to 20% in the year 2004-2005 and 10% in 2007-2008.
On June 20, the government reportedly levied customs duty on 29 US products which was thereafter deferred to a later date. This move as per experts will have an impact over WTO-mandated bound rates. Bound rates are the rates for custom duty that are committed by a nation to all other member nations under the most favoured nation principle. And departing away from these rates may put a country at a risk of being tagged as "protectionist" in accordance with the WTO norms. It is to be noted that World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules out discrimination by any of its 164 member countries by way of levying tariffs.
Also, such tariff hikes made in the last two years have been rebuked by both the industry players as well various sections of the government. Last year, the levy of duty hike on solar panels was opposed by both of the New and Renewable Energy Ministry.
Further an official from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said now that negotiation on the tariff issue has started between India and the US, India will meet all the commitments under the WTO.