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Keep paper in negative list while signing FTAs: Assocham

Business Standard, India

Keep paper in negative list while signing FTAs: Assocham

17 February 2012

Press Trust of India / New Delhi: To provide a level-playing field to the domestic industry, trade body Assocham today urged the government to keep paper and its products in the negative list while signing bi-lateral and multi-lateral trade treaties.

The customs duty for import of paper and paperboards should be increased and this category must be kept in the negative list with no preferential treatment in bi-lateral and multi-lateral trade treaties and agreements, it said.

In various free trade agreements (FTAs) that India plans to sign in future, the import duty on the material that is used for educational, printing and packaging purposes, is sought to be reduced in a phased manner.

It is important to keep paper and paperboard industry belonging to the core sector outside the ambit of FTAs and recognise it as sensitive deserving special treatment, said the chamber.

"The paper and paperboard industry has made significant investments to ramp up capacities for meeting domestic requirements," Assocham Secretary General DS Rawat.

"It has strong backward linkages with the farming community from whom wood [the raw material] is sourced," he said in a communication to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Taking advantage of low customs duty rate of ten per cent, the signatories find India an attractive outlet for diverting their excess paper inventory, Rawat said.

"Increased imports are severely impacting the economic viability of many paper mills in India," he said.