Monday 13 August 2012

The biggest corruption is silence


Anti-dumping duty — are you happy or just keeping quiet?

The interim findings of the anti-dumping commission of the Ministry of Commerce suggested anti-dumping duties on the import of offset plates from China and Japan and these were notified for a period of six months on 4 June 2012. At the open hearing held by the commission at Udyog Bhavan, lawyers for the plate manufacturers and importers pointed to many flaws in the interim report — there are seemed to be errors in certain tables (called typos) and errors in reasoning such as the application of duty on the basis of square meters rather than weight. There was debate whether CtCP plates were to also be considered digital plates or whether the duties on conventional plates should continue to be applied on these.

Another issue debated was whether TechNova had actually suffered economic injury by Chinese and Japanese manufacturers’ exports of offset plates to India. As was pointed out in the hearing TechNova’s accounts were not available and thus the claim of injury was not convincing. The point made by TechNova that it was a benevolent monopoly was naturally refuted both by the lawyers and by the Kerala Master Printers Association which forthrightly stated that it preferred economic democracy rather than the ‘benevolent monopoly’ of a single supplier of a key technical and business input such as offset plates. Of course the argument against anti-dumping duties is simply that it will drive up the prices of offset plates and also that it could to some extent limit access to new, useful and environmentally friendly technologies such as CtCP.

Several prominent printers wrote to the anti-dumping commission before the open hearing and several more have written to it after the hearing. Although TechNova is treating the interim order as a ‘fait accompli’ — something presumed to be done and which nothing can change — in fact there is a possibility that the commission could do away with the interim duties that it has applied. Printers such as Thomson Press in Faridabad and Adarsh Printers in Bhopal have written strong letters and made representations against anti-dumping duties. The Kerala Master Printers’ Association has again made written arguments which dispute the very argument of injury to TechNova on the basis of financial figures that TechNova’s was subsequently forced to reveal.

In addition, Ranjan Kuthari the current President of the All India Master Printers’ Federation has made a statement that calls for the continued import of offset plates to the tune of 30% of plate consumption in the country. Although the statement claims that 26% of offset plate consumption is already imported we feel that the entire subject requires improved research and auditing which the AIFMP should invest in. In any case, the plea for 30% imported offset plates presumably without anti-dumping duty would imply that more imported plates are needed or desirable than at present.

The printers who have spoken out and sent their views to the anti-dumping commission are the tip of the ice-berg. As is the Kerala Master Printers Association which is fortunate in having a leadership that takes the trouble to seriously look at an issue affecting the entire industry and invests time and money in presenting its views to the government.

More printers need to study the issue (the interim report is available on the Internet at www.commerce.nic.in/writereaddata/traderemedies/adpref_Digital_Offset_Printing_Plates_
ChinaPR_Japan.pdf) and they need to give their views one way or the other. As we have written before, the anti-dumping duty on offset plates is an issue that finally has woken up the printers to an issue of importance and some  have come out openly and given their views. Many others continue to show apathy — either because they are afraid of TechNova or to be noticed by the government.

This is the time for printers to speak up and be counted — and also to ask their associations to speak up. We all lament the growing tide of corruption but the biggest corruption is our incompetence in learning about business issues that directly affect us and our silence even when the government has a commission that invites our views. You can give your views to Satish Kumar, director, telephone number 011- 2306 3642; eMail: satishk@nic.in; or, satprag@gmail.com.

Naresh Khanna 13 August 2012 from the edit-blog page of August issue Indian Printer and Publisher

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