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India Again Delays Testing and Registration Requirement for Electronic Products

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

India has delayed until Jan. 3, 2014, a testing and registration requirement for information technology products that industry groups have complained is a trade barrier. The Compulsory Registration Order issued in 2012 by the Indian Department of Electronics and Information Technology provides that new equipment cannot be imported into or sold in India unless it is tested and registered with Bureau of Indian Standards-approved testing labs in India. This requirement applies to goods such as laptops, tablets, servers, televisions, microwave ovens, printers and scanners.

This requirement was initially to have taken effect April 3, 2013, but has now been pushed back three times. Press reports state that until the new effective date manufacturers may import covered products after submitting a self-declaration and certification that their products have been sent to government-certified labs for testing.

A Sept. 23 letter from three major U.S. electronics industry groups points out that under the new rules all testing must be done in BIS-recognized labs in India regardless of whether the products have already been tested and certified by internationally accredited labs that India has previously accepted and recognized. However, the letter asserts, “BIS simply does not yet have the testing capacity in place to handle this process, which has already caused enormous disruptions for our companies.” As a result, as of late September more than 1,500 test reports had been completed at approved labs but only 45 registrations had been issued by BIS, mostly for low-end electronic consumer goods.

Particularly concerning, the groups say, is that India “has been imposing fines on U.S. companies for not having safety certificates completed, despite the fact that the delays are caused by BIS” pushing back the compliance deadline. These fines have totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars and are in addition to “millions of dollars in new compliance and liability costs” and several hundred million dollars in potential losses in the fourth quarter.

There is “every reason to believe,” the letter states, that these rules are “deliberately designed to disadvantage foreign companies in favor of domestic Indian ICT manufacturers and to compel companies to help build and finance testing labs in India and force the transfer of technology through reverse engineering.” If these policies are left in place, the groups conclude, they could “shut out U.S. technology companies from a critical emerging market.”

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