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Newspaper industry opposes proposed anti-dumping duty on imported newsprint, to make a representation to government

The industry feels such a move by the government would lead to a major increase in the production cost, which would be unbearable given the impact Covid-19 has had on the revenues

India's newspaper industry feels the levy of anti-dumping duty on newsprint is unfair to the industry and believes that at a time when the sector is already suffering from poor revenue, this could be an additional burden.

The commerce ministry's investigation arm Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) in its report submitted on Tuesday has recommended the imposition of anti-dumping duty on newsprint for five years to guard the interests of domestic manufacturers.

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According to sources familiar with the matter, the publishers have been in talks with the government and were planning to register a formal protest with both the Commerce and finance ministries.

Indian Newspaper Society (INS) holds firm that there is no case for anti-dumping here. Mohit Jain, Vice-President, INS, said, “Anti-dumping is applicable when identical products are available in the country in sufficient quantities. The quality of newsprint made in India is not comparable as it is quite inferior to the ones we import. Moreover, the capacity produced in India is not even half of the required newsprint. So publishers have to import it.”

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The government report on the issue does not acknowledge the benefits gained by the Indian manufacturers due to the depreciation of the rupee in the last decade. “In the last 12 years, the INR has depreciated by 85%. If the domestic pricing is indexed to the imported prices, then the domestic manufacturers have gained from this. Their cost has not gone up by 85%. The report makes no mention of it,” he said.

The report doesn’t mention the production capacity of domestic manufacturers, Jain said. “They have been misrepresenting to the government that they have sufficient capacity. If they did, then they should have exported it. Either they don’t have the capacity or nobody wants to import newsprint of Indian quality. Two years ago there was a global shortage of newsprint. If India had the capacity why did we not export it? Instead, we imported 1.2 million tonnes of newsprint, while we exported less than 1% of our capacity,” he added. 

Jain pointed out the heavily polluting nature of Indian paper mills. “They are damaging the environment. 65 mills have received notice from the Central Pollution Control Board for polluting their rivers. Publishers are all for supporting the Make in India programme. However, we are seeking a basic level of quality standard for our production processes,” he said. 

The Indian Newsprint Manufacturers Association (INMA) had requested the initiation of an anti-dumping investigation last year. The commerce ministry's investigation arm, the Directorate General of Trade Remedies in its report submitted on Tuesday, has recommended the imposition of anti-dumping duty on newsprint for five years to guard the interests of domestic manufacturers.

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