On January 19th, the Directorate General of Trade Remedies, which is the investigation arm of the Commerce Ministry, recommended imposing anti-dumping duty on newsprint coming from several countries. However, this has caused a strange reaction from the Trinamool Congress, as leaders are giving opposing views on the matter.
Newsprint is the paper used to print newspapers, and the DGTR had recommended anti-dumping duty on newsprint imported from Australia, Canada, European Union, Russia, Singapore and United Arab Emirates, to protect the domestic industry. The DGTR had initiated an investigation into the issue, and had extensive consultations with the industry. They had obtained submissions from the companies located in the concerned countries that export newsprint to India.
After going through all the data, DGTR had determined that the imports are prices below the cost of sales, which had a depressing effect on the prices of domestic industry. The report by DGTR said that while imports have increased over the last few years, domestic production and sales have decreased. As a result, the market share for domestic industry has shrunk. As a result, the DGTR had suggested imposing anti-dumping duty on newsprint imported from the concerned countries.
The newspaper industry has opposed proposed anti-dumping duty on newsprint. Publishers have rejected the DGTR report, claiming that there not enough capacity in India. They have also claimed that the quality of newsprint produced in India is not same as the imported product.
TMC leader and Rajya Sabha MP Nadimul Haque had come in support of the publishers, opposing the anti-dumping duty. He has written a letter to PM Narendra Modi, saying that the “anti-dumping custom duty will create big problem on financial health of thousands of small and medium language newspapers, who are already suffering on account of low revenues, due to COVID-19.”
He had requested the PM to look into the matter and to not consider any anti-dumping duty on standard newsprint.
However, Nadimul Haque’s position is completely different from the stand taken by TMC’s Lok Sabha MP Saugata Roy, who had written to the PM to protect the Indian newsprint manufacturing industry.
Writing on the behalf of the employee unions of Gulmohar Paper Ltd and the Indian Newsprint Manufacturers Association, he had said that domestic newsprint industry is facing a “complete close down due to continuous increase in aggressive and unethical dumping of imported newsprint”. He wrote that more than 100 papers miss in the country has closed down and a large number of paper mills are on the verge of closure. “It is totally against your flagship programme of Atmanirbhar Bharat”, the TMC MP said, asking the PM to take necessary steps.
Thus, it is quite intriguing that two TMC MPs are fighting for the two sides in the issue. While Saugata Roy wants to revive Indian industries by blocking imports, Nadimul Haque opposes any such measure claiming it will harm the newspapers.