Indian imports of paper and paperboard have jumped to 47% from INR 7,839 crore in FY 2021-22 to INR 11,513 crore in FY 2022-23, according to data released by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence & Statistics (DGCI&S). The highest jump was in uncoated writing & printing paper imports, at 102% in 2022-23.
May 16, 2023
The Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence & Statistics (DGCI&S) has issued data showing an exponential increase of 47% in the Indian imports of paper and paperboard, from INR 7,839 crore in FY 2021-22 to INR 11,513 crore in FY 2022-23. While the growth in imports have been across all grades of paper, the highest jump has been in the imports of uncoated writing & printing paper at 102% in 2022-23 over 2021-22, followed by coated paper and paperboard at 51%, and tissue at 41%. Imports from China have increased a stupendous 112%, and from ASEAN countries by 97%. The top import sources of uncoated writing & printing paper are Indonesia, Singapore and China. The top import sources of coated paper and paperboard are China, Japan and South Korea.
According to Pawan Agarwal, President, Indian Paper Manufacturers Association (IPMA), imports of paper and paperboard into India have significantly increased in the last three years, in spite of adequate domestic production capacity. As the domestic industry suffers with the issue of producing paper and paperboard at competitive costs with rising raw material and energy costs, substantial quantities of paper and paperboard are imported into the country at significantly lower costs with nil import duty from ASEAN, South Korea and Japan under the respective free trade agreements, and preferential import duty from China under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA). Taking advantage of the low import duty rates in India, these countries find India as an attractive outlet for diverting their excess inventory. Mr. Agarwal further stated that apart from the overall negative impact of duty-free imports on the domestic paper industry, it is making most small and medium paper mills in India commercially unviable, and also jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands of farmers engaged in farm forestry and supplying wood, the primary raw material, to paper mills. This is against the spirit of “Make in India”, “Atma Nirbhar Bharat” and “Vocal for Local”.
Rohit Pandit, Secretary General, IPMA, added that in order to provide a level playing field to the domestic industry, paper and paperboard should be kept in the exclusion list, with no preferential treatment in terms of import tariff, while urgently reviewing the existing FTAs and formulating new FTAs. IPMA has also called for the issue of quality control orders (QCOs) by the Government on all grades of paper and making BIS certification mandatory. Issuance of QCOs for different grades of paper will not only assure supply of quality products to the Indian consumers but also check the import of sub-standard products into the country.