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India rejects EU’s suggestion not to re-test imported steel

India has turned down the European Union’s suggestion of not to insist on re-testing steel imports, that have already been tested in foreign accredited laboratories. New Delhi argued that the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) quality certification system was mandated as it laid down specific procedure of tests critical to ensure public safety. According to a recent submission by India to the World Trade Organisation’s Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade “On the necessity of the measure and requirement of re-testing, it is to reiterate that quality of the stainless steel is of utmost importance as it involves public health, safety and security.”

Explaining the rigorous requirements of BIS regulations, India explained that it required evidence of conformity of the product to the relevant Indian standard through testing in a BIS / BIS recognised laboratory, for the purpose of granting BIS marks certification licence. It said “Samples are drawn for testing in the independent laboratories for assessing conformity to the relevant standard before granting licence.”

The submission added that Indian standards specify method of tests, and the labs recognised by BIS carry out tests as per the test methods and requirements defined in Indian standards

In its reply, India further said its Quality Control Order for stainless steel products aimed to ensure quality and durability for items intended for critical end-use applications. Many of the steel products are used as final products also. Moreover, the order is equally applicable to both domestic and foreign manufacturers. On the suggestion that the steel mills with ISO 9001 quality management system in place should be exempt from the requirement of factory inspections, the statement clarified that ISO 9001 certification does not cover factory testing as per Indian standards.

The EU, in the last meeting of the WTO’s Committee on TBT, had argued that the requirement for re-testing by BIS authorised laboratories of the covered steel products created a non-tariff barrier to trade. The EU’s fresh complaint follows the Indian Steel Ministry’s decision in June to bring 16 more steel products under the ambit of its quality control. The order, first passed in 2016, now covers 50 carbon steel and three stainless steel products.
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