By Neeraj Chhabra
In a significant step towards transparency, the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (“DGTR”) has recently issued Manual of Operating Practices (“manual”) for trade remedy investigations and Handbook of Operating Procedures (“handbook”) of Trade Defence Wing.
After an amendment to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 on May 7, 2018 substituting “Directorate General of Trade Remedies” in place of “Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties” in the Department of Commerce, DGTR has become the integrated single umbrella national authority for trade remedy investigations dealing with quantitative restrictions, anti-dumping, countervailing/anti-subsidy and safeguard measures. The creation of DGTR necessitated formulation of standard guidelines and procedures for trade remedy investigations.
The manual captures the standard practices/procedures with respect to the trade remedy investigations conducted by India which covers almost all the legal provisions and the procedures pertaining to trade remedy investigations in an elaborate manner. The manual consists of 24 Chapters wherein a major part is on the practices/procedures with respect to the anti-dumping investigations. As per WTO data, India has conducted 888 anti-dumping investigations, 42 safeguard investigations and 3 countervailing duty investigations between 1st January 1995 and 31st December 2017. This data clearly shows that the Indian Authority has pre-dominantly relied on anti-dumping investigations.
On the other hand, handbook is for the Trade Defence Wing which provides trade defence support to Indian domestic producers and exporters, dealing with the increasing instances of trade remedy investigations instituted against them by other countries. The handbook also captures the practices and procedures adopted by DGTR in responding to trade remedy investigations initiated by other countries against India.
The publications have been placed in their website to make them accessible to all the stakeholders. This will help the Indian industry which is not very familiar with the intricacies of law as well as the procedures in trade remedy investigations.
Since 2017, the Authority has become more active in easing the process of filing applications for initiation of investigations and accelerating the proceedings themselves as compared to the previous 22 years. In this regard, within a span of one year DGTR has issued 17 trade notices with regard to confidentiality, collection of import data, new application and questionnaire formats, request for change in name of producer(s) / exporter(s) in anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations, etc.
The publications intend to bring standard procedures, clarity, consistency, fairness, awareness, equality amongst the parties, accountability and most importantly transparency in conducting the trade remedy investigations. By issuing the manual and handbook, India has also become a part of the club of developed countries like United States and Australia having their own manuals/guidelines.
Therefore, in the interest of a fair investigation, the publications by DGTR are a welcome step for the domestic industry as well as all the interested parties in the trade remedy investigations.
[The author is an Associate in International Trade Practice, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan, New Delhi]