The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ray of hope for torch-makers

Calcutta, Feb. 14: Local torch manufacturers can now breathe easy. The Union commerce ministry has imposed an anti-dumping duty on cheap import of non-brass metal (namely steel) torches from China to safeguard their interests.

In a notification (No.25/2003-customs) issued by the anti-dumping directorate of the commerce ministry on February 12, the floor price of torches coming from China has been fixed at Rs 41 apiece. This apart, the importer will have to pay a 16 per cent counter-vailing duty and a 4 per cent special additional duty. Therefore, the total landed cost per imported torch would be around Rs 50.

Other than the big manufacturers in the organised sector like Eveready, Nippo, Geep and Novino, the commerce ministry’s move will benefit a whole lot of manufacturers in the unorganised sector.

The organised sector produces about 15 million torches worth Rs 100 crore a year. The unorganised sector, with over two dozen manufacturers, produces six million pieces annually worth Rs 25-30 crore.

Since November 2001, cheap torches were being imported into the country in huge quantities. Of the total torches that were imported, more than 90 per cent came from China.

These torches, which come in all sorts of configurations, are under-priced and, therefore, under-invoiced. This hurts the economy in two ways: while the domestic manufacturers find it hard to match the low price of the imported product, the national exchequer suffers a loss in the form of lower duty realisation.

The brass look-alike torches made of sheet metal are imported to India at unbelievable prices of Rs 5-6 per piece. The products are then sold by Indian wholesalers at Rs 20-23 per piece.

The ministry, while slapping an anti-dumping duty, has shown three main reasons behind the move: non-brass metal flashlights have been exported to India from China below the normal value, the Indian industry has suffered material injury and injury has been caused to the domestic industry by dumped imports from China.

Torch light manufacturers said: “The move will give us a level playing field. Manufacturers who produce batteries as well as torches sell their products at Rs 75 apiece (Rs 65 without battery). So the price gap between the Chinese torches and Indian torches will narrow down. Moreover, the Chinese products do not carry quality assurance.”

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