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Government may impose customs duty on electronic goods
September, 02nd 2013

A government committee is exploring the possibility of imposing a basic customs duty on a few electronic hardware items, which are not part of the obligatory zero customs duty list under World Trade Organization's information technology pact signed back in 1996. Concurrently, the panel, headed by the secretary of department of electronics and information technology (Deity), is also aiming to correct the inverted duty structure in the electronic hardware sector, according to internal documents related to a meeting of the committee, and seen by ET.

The committee also has some commerce ministry officials as its members. The latest move by the government aims to promote domestic manufacturing of electronic hardware .

The inverted duty structure had been discouraging local manufacturing in the sector as the duties would increase the cost of an electronic hardware item made in the country compared to a direct import of that item.

The step also comes at a time the government desperately needs to reduce imports as it is faces a record current account deficit , which in turn is weakening the rupee against the dollar. Electronic imports into India are the highest after oil and gold. New Delhi also hopes for some additional revenue from imposing basic customs duty on the few products though that many not be too much in value as the items would be very few.

"We need to build a vibrant electronic industry. We have to ensure that whatever products are coming through the imported route and those made by domestic industry have a level playing field" , a commerce department official told ET.

Demand for electronics is going up exponentially, but "if we consistently import , it is very bad business . We needn't be import dependent." he added.

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