Import Duty Current Affairs - 2019

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Govt scraps import duty on open cell TV panel used to make TV sets

In a bid to boost domestic manufacturing, the Central government has removed 5% custom duty that was imposed on import of open cell TV panel. Open cell TV panel are used in manufacturing of television sets such as LED TVs.

Key Highlights

As per the notification issued by Union Ministry of Finance in this regard the open cell, (15.6 inch and above), for use in the manufacture of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) TV panel would attract zero duty.

The government has also scrapped custom duty on import of Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA), Cell (glass board or substrate) and Chip on Film, which are used to manufacture open cell TV panels.

Open cell panel is an important part of TV manufacturing and covers 60-70% cost of the unit. The move to scraps import duty on open cell TV panel would also help to reduce the price of TV panel by around 3% as it would lower the input costs for TV makers.

Background

On 30 June 2017, the government had imposed a custom duty of 5% on import of such panel. Many TV makers including Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA) had opposed the increased duty, and have been complaining about a slump in demand and had requested government to waive it. TV makers have since then been complaining about a slump in demand.

Currently, open cells panels are not manufactured in India and TV companies rely on imports of these key components part of LED television sets. An import duty levied by government on open cell LED panels had also pushed some electronics makers to import TV sets from neighbouring markets like Vietnam and Thailand to avoid duties on open cell panels.

Centre increases Wheat Import Duty by 40%

With wheat production at record high, government has raised import duty on wheat from existing 30% to 40% to support local farmers interest. The higher duty will help offtake of domestically produced grain by discouraging milers to import wheat but to buy local produce and help protect farm prices. The oversupply in domestic market due to back to back bumper production of food grains has put wheat prices under pressure.

Key Highlights

  • India’s wheat production for 2018-19 crop year (which runs from July to June) is 2% higher than 2018, at a recored production of 99.12 million tonnes.
  • Food Corporation of India (FCI) which holds government’s wheat stocks already had 16.99 million tonnes in April and after next purchase by government its stock could reach 57  million tonnes by May end.
  • Reason for bumper production: In a bid to improve farm income government raised minimum support price (MSP) of wheat (rate at which FCI buys from farmers) by 6% (Rs.1,840 per 100 kg for 2019), which acted as a benchmark for open market in wheat.
  • For similar bumper crop in 2018, government increased import duty on wheat from 20% to 30% which resulted in sharp drop in wheat import.
  • In past India has imported wheat from Australia, Ukraine and Russia, but with global prices in addition to 40% duty would make import virtually impossible.
  • Earlier, in concern of its farm duty rates as well as on subsidies it gives to farmers,
  • In past Australia has taken India to WTO’s arbitration panel on its farm duty rates and subsidies given to farmers, but it hardly affects because India by right can raise duties on wheat up to 80% under a bound rate agreement it has signed at WTO.

Wheat

Wheat is India’s staple food, placed second to rice. Uttar Pradesh is the largest wheat producing state in India followed by Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh. India is second largest producer of wheat in the world. China is world’s largest producer, followed by India, Russia, and the United states.

Food Corporation of India

It is a statutory non-profit organization founded and run by Government of India and also run by state Governments. It was created in 1965 under Food Corporations Act 1964, to implement objectives of National Food Policy. Initially headquartered at Chennai it was later shifted to New Delhi. As it is a state-owned enterprise, it has presence in every state in India.

FCI Objectives

  • Safeguarding farmers interests by providing them remunerative prices.
  • Making food grains available at reasonable prices throughout the country (for public distribution system), particularly for vulnerable section of society.
  • Intervening in market for price stabilization.
  • Maintaining buffer stocks as a measure of Food Security.