Just as India started relaxing its lockdown norms and slowly moved towards normalcy, Indian tiles exporters received a shock as the GCC decided to implement its earlier decision of imposing final anti-dumping duty for a period of five years against the GCC imports of ceramic and porcelain tiles of origin or export from India and China. Though the decision to this effect was taken last year, it was kept on hold due to breakout of Coronavirus and subsequent market disruption. Higher anti-dumping duty (ADD) of 41% on most Indian ceramic tile players as against 24% for a bulk of Chinese players imposed by the GCC will make Indian exports less competitive and may lead to market share losses in Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. The ADD imposed on Indian companies is broadly similar to the levies proposed in November 2019 despite industry representation to the council. Further, GCC decided to exclude the imports from Spain from the imposition of dumping fees thus facilitating imports from that country.
GCC countries account for about 35-40% of the total exports of Rs 12,000 crore from Morbi in Gujarat. About 400 of the 850 units in Morbi are engaged in exporting to Gulf countries. Rising exports from India had enabled Morbi players to stay afloat despite recent headwinds from lower domestic demand, the ban on coal gasifiers (leading to higher cost of production), and increased compliance requirements.
It may be recalled here that the government had taken up the issue of ADD on Indian tiles on several occasions at various levels. Upon receipt of the representation from the industry, a meeting was held with the representatives of the Indian ceramic industry on 18.12.2018 in which preliminary findings of the Bureau of Technical Secretariat for Anti Injurious Practices in International Trade (TSAIP) – Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) report on dumping margins were discussed. The issue was also taken up with Saudi side during the workshop on strategic partnership with Saudi Centre for International Strategic Partnership (SCISP) in February, 2019 at Riyadh. After the issue of disclosure report and its translation from Arabic to English in November, 2019 by the law firm representing the Indian ceramic industry in TSAIP-GCC, a delegation comprising senior officials from Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR), Department of Commerce, Government of India and representatives of Indian ceramic industry had a meeting with Director General, TSAIP-GCC Secretariat on 26.11.2019 at Riyadh to discuss the issue in detail. In the meeting, the Indian delegation had apprised the TSAIP-GCC of certain facts and anomalies reflected in the disclosure report issued in November 2019 and requested them to consider the same in the final report. Later, after the receipt of inputs vetted by the law firm defending Indian ceramic industry’s case in TSAIP-GCC on 6.12.2019, the issue was again pursued by the Department of Commerce, Government of India with GCC Authorities through the Indian Mission in Saudi Arabia.