The domestic industry should work on improving product standards to enhance competitiveness and not always seek tariff protection as it has not worked, a top government official said as per the PTI report. "We have continuously as a country chosen to use tariff, use protectionism, use some other fig leaf to sort of insulate ourselves from the world. It has not worked," Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said. Citing example of using trade remedies such as imposing anti-dumping duties, she said India is the largest user of these measures but it has not stopped the inflow of imports. India has the space to increase duties when required, "but it is not desirable.
So what exists that is useful and good for us is technical regulations and certification of those regulations", she said. "This is how all other countries ensure to protect their own markets, consumers and meet global standards," she added. Teaotia also asked the industry to manufacture and sell high quality goods and services to domestic consumers as well. "...We should not keep (ourselves) behind tariff barriers. Ultimately we will need to reduce tariffs," she said.
When asked about US challenging India's export incentive schemes in the World Trade Organisation, she said the foreign trade policy clearly stated that India would soon cross the threshold of GDP per capita and India needs to adopt schemes that are 100 per cent WTO compliant. However, she added that India recognises its obligation but there is also a "very clear timeline by which we should be achieving that". Replying to a question on a possibility to start talks for a free trade pact with the US, she said it is an "interesting idea", but both the the markets are "pretty" open and one has to see the gain of such pacts for India.
Talking about a FTA with UK, the secretary said Britain has expressed interest for this but "we would be awaiting the contours of Brexit". Replying to a question on refund of Goods and Services Tax (GST) to exporters, she said revenue authorities have set up camps across the country to ease the refund woes and industry should visit those camps and give feedback to the commerce ministry. Agreeing with exporters that banks have become conservative, she said efforts would be made to resolve exporters' issues.