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Commerce ministry developing platform for registration, resolution of non-trade barriers

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The Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) has suggested a two-pronged strategy to mitigate the influence of NTBs on exports

New Delhi: The commerce ministry is developing a platform for registering non-tariff barriers (NTBs) faced by exporters and taking up with the concerned countries for their resolution, a senior official said.

At present, there is an information gap on these barriers particularly for small items.

“We are making a portal so that we can prioritise all the NTBs. Traders will register their complaints and the ministry will pursue that,” the official said.

In cases where the barrier is impacting a large volume of goods will be prioritised for their redressal and action-taking.

Economic think tank GTRI in its report has stated that India needs to act in a fast-track manner for the removal of NTBs, being faced by domestic exporters in different countries like the US, China and Japan, to achieve export target of USD 1 trillion for goods by 2030.

The Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) has suggested a two-pronged strategy to mitigate the influence of NTBs on exports.

It asked for upgrading domestic systems, in cases where Indian products are rejected due to quality issues; and retaliating if unreasonable standards or rules continue to obstruct exports from New Delhi.

“Many of India’s exports suffer due to time taking prior registration requirements and unreasonable domestic standards/rules in many countries.

“India must talk to partner countries for reasonable solutions,” GTRI Co-founder Ajay Srivastava has said.

Many of India’s food and agriculture products face problems due to higher pesticide levels, presence of pests and contaminations due to foot and mouth disease.

India’s exports are far below potential as they face NTBs in the EU (European Union), the US, China, Japan, Korea and many other countries.

Key Indian exports that routinely face high barriers include chillies, tea, basmati rice, milk, poultry, bovine meat, fish, chemical products to the EU; sesame seed, black tiger shrimps, medicines, apparel to Japan; food, meat, fish, dairy, industrial products to China; shrimps to the US; and bovine meat to South Korea.

According to the report, the other products which face these barriers include ceramic tiles in Egypt; chilli in Mexico; medicines in Argentina; microbiological regents in Saudi Arabia; electrical, medical devices, and household appliances in Brazil; veterinary pharmaceuticals, feed additives, and machinery in Russia.

Most non-tariff measures (NTMs) are domestic rules created by countries with an aim to protect human, animal or plant health and environment. NTM may be technical measures like regulations, standards, testing, certification, pre-shipment inspection or non-technical measures like quotas, import licensing, subsidies, and government procurement restrictions.

When NTMs become arbitrary, beyond scientific justification, they create hurdles for trade and are called NTBs (non-tariff barriers).

India’s exports of basmati rice, chillies, tea and many other agricultural products face difficulty in foreign markets due to the higher use of pesticides and fungicides.

The traces of pesticides left in treated products are called ‘residues’ and a maximum residue level (MRL) is the highest level of a pesticide residue that is legally tolerated in food or feed.

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