India plans to get tough on uncategorised imports

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India wants to stop imports coming in as 'other' if it is not really necessary.

Indian trade minister Piyush Goyal has said the country will have to take action on so many of its imports entering the country uncategorised.

Every product sent out for trade should be given a HSN (Harmonised System of Nomenclature) code to help with the classification of goods across the globe.

However, speaking at the sixth National Standards Conclave organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, Mr Goyal said he is now seeing one in four products entering India classed as 'other'.

As a result, the minister is seeking to curb such imports by insisting any truly uncategorised items require special licences and must go on a restricted list.

"I appeal to everybody who is importing any product or service into the country, please categorise your product into the respective HSN code where it falls. If your product is imported in sufficient measure, it requires a separate HSN code," he commented.

Mr Goyal said he would be following the German model of trade and waiting for a response from importers for the next 30 days, following which imports classed as 'other' would be restricted.

Importers will therefore have a month to seek an HSN or tariff code from the foreign trade office before facing either restrictions on inbound shipments or even penalties.

To assist those whose products do not fit into any existing code, the trade ministry said it will start a process to create new HSN codes where appropriate.

In one month's time, every product labelled 'other' will require a licence to get it into India.

"Either the import duty will be increased exorbitantly or a special duty imposed, so that FTA countries also will bear it," Mr Goyal added.

This undoubtedly puts more onus on traders to correctly classify their goods, although it may require a lot of work for India going forward, as one anonymous official claimed as many as 3,000 items on the 'other' list are not currently well-defined.

India is currently taking steps to boost manufacturing exports and limit non-essential imports to cut its trade deficit.

Although the Asian nation's GDP had been growing at around eight per cent in recent years, last year saw a marked deceleration and a slump of 4.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2019.

This prompted the Reserve Bank of India to cut its projected growth rate to 6.1 per cent for 2019-20.