India plans to impose strict rules and tariffs on Chinese imports

China enjoys a trade surplus of about US$50 billion with India. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG) - India plans to impose stringent quality-control measures and higher tariffs on imports from China, people with knowledge of the matter said, as a military stand-off between the neighbours threatens economic ties.

The state-run Bureau of Indian Standards is finalising tougher norms for at least 370 products such as chemicals, steel, consumer electronics, heavy machinery, furniture, paper, industrial machinery, rubber articles, glass, metal articles, pharma, and fertiliser to eliminate non-essential and cheap imports, the people said, asking not to be identified citing rules.

Discussions are also ongoing to raise import duty on products including furniture, compressors for air-conditioners and auto components, they said. The proposal is being evaluated by the Finance Ministry amid the government's push for local manufacturing.

The Trade Ministry is separately evaluating non-tariff measures to check Chinese imports to avoid falling foul of World Trade Organisation rules. Such measures would include more inspections, product testing and enhanced quality certification requirements, the people said.

A spokesman for the Trade Ministry declined to comment, while a Finance Ministry spokesman didn't respond to a call made to his mobile during office hours.

China is India's biggest source of imports, with purchases including electronic goods, industrial machinery and organic chemicals running into almost US$70 billion (S$97.4 billion) last year. Beijing enjoys a trade surplus of about US$50 billion with New Delhi.

The need for import substitution started after disruptions to raw material supplies from China in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. A deadly clash between soldiers from both countries along a contested Himalayan border this month added to calls for that process to be expedited.

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