India not obliged to accept WTO panel's report on export schemes: Govt

Union Minister Piyush Goyal. Photo: PTI
India is not obliged to implement recommendations the World Trade Organization's dispute panel has made about the country’s export promotion schemes, the government told Parliament on Wednesday.

The panel, in its report issued to members on October 31, 2019, had ruled that India's export-related schemes (including for special economic zones or SEZ) are in the nature of prohibited subsidies under the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and are inconsistent with WTO norms. India appealed at the WTO's appellate body after it was given 180 days to withdraw the SEZ scheme.

"Due to non-functioning of appellate body (of the WTO's dispute settle mechanism), the appeal has been kept in suspension. Till the appeal is disposed of, India is under no obligation to implement the recommendations of panel," Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

In a separate reply, Goyal told Parliament that India is involved in 15 disputes at the WTO, mostly against the US.

The disputes where India is a complaining party are countervailing duty by the US on Indian steel products; measures by America concerning non-immigrant visas; renewable energy programmes of the US; and import duties imposed on steel and aluminium products by America.

WTO disputes where India is a responding party include prohibition by India on import of poultry and poultry products filed by the US, and import duties on certain information and communication technology goods filed by the EU, Japan and Taiwan. 

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