The Indian Paper Manufacturers Association (IPMA) is urging the government to implement measures in the upcoming budget to protect the domestic paper and paperboard industry. The industry body has proposed an increase in the import duty on paper and paperboard from the current 10% to 25% to curb cheap imports. IPMA emphasizes that India’s WTO Bound rate allows for a 40% duty on these products, making the proposed 25% still within reasonable bounds. Additionally, the association calls for the imposition of quality control orders (QCOs) for various paper grades to ensure the supply of high-quality products and prevent the influx of sub-standard imports.
Pawan Agarwal, the President of IPMA, emphasizes the need for keeping paper and paperboard on the negative list during the review of existing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and the formulation of new ones. He suggests that such a move would not impact duty-free imports under FTAs and advocates for safeguard, anti-dumping, and countervailing duties on paper imports based on recommendations from the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR).
The IPMA highlights the challenging situation faced by the domestic paper industry due to a surge in paper and paperboard imports, leading to underutilization of domestic production capacity. Despite having ample capacity, India has witnessed a 43% increase in imports during the first half of FY24, following a 25% increase in the previous fiscal year. The industry calls for urgent measures in the upcoming budget, emphasizing the importance of increasing import duties to foster a level playing field for domestic manufacturers and address the growing concerns of the paper industry.