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Non-tariff barriers emerging as potent tool to disrupt legitimate textiles trade: AEPC, ET Retail

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Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are gradually emerging as a potent tool to damage and even disrupt legitimate textiles trade, apparel export promotion council (AEPC) said on Thursday. As many as 131 NTB notifications are issued related to the textile sector since 2019 with Uganda at the top position with 71 notifications, it said.

It was followed by Ecuador (10), China (8), Taiwan (7), Israel (5), USA (4), and Peru (3).

These barriers include certifications, inspections, regulations, standards, SPS (sanitary and phyto-sanitary – related with plants and animals) measures, and technical barriers to trade (TBT).

These measures are by and large in conformity with the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

But when these measures are used unfairly, in violation of WTO agreements to discriminate against imports and restrict market access, then they become non-tariff barriers hampering legitimate trade.

The council has organized a webinar on emerging non-tariff barriers in the apparel export sector with an aim to sensitize the industry about the issue.

Mithileshwar Thakur, Secretary General, AEPC, said: “NTBs have slowly but surely emerged as a potent tool to damage and even disrupt legitimate trade.”

Of late, innovative ways were being explored by developed economies like the European Union to restrict imports from developing countries, he said.

Legislations like CBAM (Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism) and EUDR (EU Deforestation Legislation) are violative of WTO agreements and bound to make Indian exports to the EU less competitive, he added.

“Ways and means need to be explored to handle the challenges arising out of these legislations,” Thakur said.

Speaking during the webinar, Seetharaman Sampath, Co-founder, Sarvada Legal, said that these NTBs arise from different measures taken by governments and authorities in the form of laws, regulations, policies, conditions, restrictions or specific requirements, or prohibitions that protect the domestic industries from foreign competition.

“EU, US and UK are our top markets for the apparel sector and so we should be extra careful about their moves to bring any legislation/regulation in the nature of TBTs affecting the apparel sector,” Sampath said.

Most countries follow a consultation process before a new TBT is introduced or an existing TBT is modified.

Indian industry must participate in the consultation process and report its apprehension and objections to the government at the initial stage of the law-making process itself rather than complaining after its entry into force, he added.

These barriers to trade can arise due to unreasonable/unjustified packaging, labelling, product standards, complex regulatory environment, additional trade documents like certificate of authenticity, occupational safety and health regulation, employment law.

  • Published On Aug 11, 2023 at 08:36 AM IST

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