According to reports, India’s major trade partners-the US, the EU and Japan-have stepped up pressure to remove local content requirement clause in the ambitious national solar mission project and manufacture of certain electronic products.
However, New Delhi is preparing to defend its policies strongly at the World Trade Organization right till the dispute panel level.
“There is a possibility that US may launch a formal dispute against India, especially for the domestic content clause in the National Solar Mission, but we will fight it,” a commerce department official told ET.
The US, the EU and Japan recently asked for a special meeting of the Trade Related Investment Measures or Trims committee of the WTO to address concerns on domestic content requirement or compulsory local-sourcing clause in some policy measures in India, Brazil, Indonesia and Russia.
India’s decision to grant preference to domestically manufactured electronic products on security grounds, taken earlier this year, and the 30% mandatory domestic sourcing requirement in the JNSSM were strongly criticised by the three members.
The US expressed concern about telecom licensees in India having to purchase telecom equipment locally and wanted to know if the domestic sourcing requirement covered all private agencies.
“The US wanted to know which clause of security exceptions was being invoked and how security concerns are addressed by domestic content and value addition requirement,” the official said.
India maintained that security issues are sacrosanct for all WTO members, and a detailed discussion was not possible since these issues are sensitive and confidential and are dealt on the basis of advice from security agencies.
The EU asked for a timeline on when detailed guidelines of the IT policy was expected, but India refused to give any date.
“We do not expect much trouble on electronic goods sourcing as we are well within our rights to take such measures for security reasons,” the official said.
The ground, however, may be a bit wobbly when it comes to defending the requirements under the JNSSM that asks all investors to compulsorily use solar modules manufactured in India and source at least 30% of input locally.
The Trims does not allow any member to impose sourcing restrictions without ample justification. New Delhi is now waiting for the next Trims committee meeting to see what the US, the EU and Japan plan to do on the matter. “We are prepared to fight it till the end, and we will do so,” the official said