EU holds off on raw exports5 February 2001
The EC has taken heed of a request from Cotance and is suspending its decision to open formal consultations with India at the World Trade Organisation on the issue of exports of raw and semi-processed hides and skins from India. In a letter written by trade commissioner Pascal Lamy to the Indian commerce minister Murasoli Maran, the EU has, however, insisted it is only suspending and not withdrawing the case. Cotance secretary general, Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano said: 'To resume an active industrial co-operation between the EU and India, we need to be 100% sure that the regulatory change constitutes a genuine liberalisation and is not merely a cosmetic exercise.' The opening of formal consultations is the last necessary step before a party can call for a dispute settlement panel at the WTO. Recently, the Indian government changed the hides and skins policy and announced the removal of the export ban and instead imposed a 60% export tariff, a move that brings the Indian position in line with the WTO rules. Lamy says while he welcomes the lifting of the export ban, he is still concerned about the licensing scheme that the government wants to bring in place, which will make it obligatory for any exporter of raw hides and skins to be registered with a central authority in India who will issue the export licence. Europe insists that such conditions are against the WTO rules and cite a case that Argentina recently lost where it had made it obligatory for the details of export contracts to be disclosed and those details could then be obtained by any company. India, however, rejects the European interpretation, saying that by lifting the export ban the rules are now perfectly compatible with India's obligations at the WTO.