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Gold import curbs a concern

Anand Sharma in New Delhi on Tuesday. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi, March 4: The commerce ministry today called for the easing of curbs on gold imports as excessive regulation is encouraging the smuggling of the yellow metal.

“I have been of the consistent view that we need to have a balance. Over-regulation leads to another problem...and that is smuggling. Therefore, some easing is essential,” commerce minister Anand Sharma told reporters here today.

Sharma said he had taken up the issue with the finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had earlier forwarded a letter from the All India Gems and Jewellery Association to the ministry seeking a tariff cut.

The government had raised the import duty on gold to 10 per cent in 2013 from 4 per cent to rein in a ballooning current account deficit (CAD). Supplies had also dried up because the RBI has mandated that importers would have to keep aside 20 per cent of any imported gold for re-export as jewellery.

Gold was the second biggest component in the import bill after crude oil. The higher gold duty came after CAD, or the gap between India’s foreign currency income and spending, mounted to a record of $88.2 billion, or 4.8 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), in 2012-13.

US trade stance

Sharma today launched a broadside against the US, accusing it of trade protectionism, which is making it hard for Indian nationals to obtain US visas. He said India’s patent laws were compliant with the rules of the World Trade Organisation. “There are issues which India has raised where we feel there is very high and unacceptable protectionism,” he said.

“When it comes to intellectual property rights, I must firmly put on record that India is signatory to the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and our laws are fully compliant with the agreement of the WTO. India has never deviated, never diluted (its law),” he said.

The US has alleged that India’s IPR norms discriminates American companies particularly in the pharmaceutical sector.

 
 
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