The Financial Express

India coy about consultation on anti-dumping duty on Bangladeshi jute goods

| Updated: March 29, 2021 17:17:29

India coy about consultation on anti-dumping duty on Bangladeshi jute goods

Bangladesh, in the face of opposition from India, failed to accommodate a provision of 'pre-initiation consultation' on the anti-dumping issue in the MoU on trade remedial measures, signed between the two countries on Saturday last, officials said.

Dhaka and New Delhi inked the MoU during Indian Prime Minister's just concluded visit to Bangladesh.

From the very beginning of negotiations, India took a firm stand not to include the anti-dumping duty issue in the memorandum of understanding (MoU), they added.

Even it did not agree to include a provision of 'pre-initiation consultation' on the anti-dumping issue in the MoU document as sought by the Bangladesh side.

In the MoU text, India had referred to two articles-Article 5.5 of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Article 11 (A) of South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) deal.

One party would notify another party seven days before in accordance with Article 5.5 of GATT and Article 11 (A) of SAFTA, according to the MoU.

Article 5.5 of GATT stated: "The authorities shall avoid, unless a decision has been made to initiate an investigation, any publicising of the application for the initiation of an investigation. However, after receipt of a properly documented application and before proceeding to initiate an investigation, the authorities shall notify the government of the exporting member concerned."

According to Article 11 of SAFTA, the least developed contracting states of the deal should be given consultation before initiating an anti-dumping investigation.

"The contracting states shall give special regard to the situation of the least developed contracting states when considering the application of anti-dumping and/or countervailing measures," Article 11 (A) said.

"In this regard, the contracting states shall provide an opportunity to least developed contracting states for consultations," it added.

Trade officials in Dhaka said in the MoU text, there was no mention that scopes would be given for consultation, but it was mentioned that notification would be given seven days before initiating any anti-dumping investigation.

When India had initiated anti-dumping investigation and subsequently slapped duty on jute goods in 2017, they said, New Delhi did not consult with Dhaka and clearly violated the clauses of the GATT and the SAFTA even though they were bound to do so.

At that time, Bangladesh raised objection to Indian violation of GATT and SAFTA clauses concerned, but Delhi did not pay heed to Dhaka's concern.

"As they did not follow legal requirements at that time, their imposition of anti-dumping duty on jute and other Bangladeshi goods should have been considered 'null and void'," a senior trade official told the FE.

Alongside tariff, para-tariff and non-tariff barriers, officials said, antidumping and countervailing measures imposed by India are also major concerns for Bangladeshi traders.

Presently, Indian anti-dumping duty is applicable to exports of at least three Bangladeshi items-jute goods, hydrogen peroxide and fishing net.

India in January 2017 slapped anti-dumping duty on Bangladesh's jute yarn, hessian and bags, ranging between US$19 and $352 per tonne.

A similar duty, ranging between $27.81 and $91.47 per tonne, was also imposed on export of hydrogen peroxide to India from Bangladesh in April 2017.

In 2018, India also levied anti-dumping duty, $2.69 per kilogramme, on fishing net exported from Bangladesh to its domestic market.

Despite extensive consultations for years, India did not withdraw these anti-dumping cases, hindering exports of Bangladeshi goods to the neighbouring country.

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