Battery making firms wants government to prevent poor quality imports from China

Domestic battery firms including Eveready have asked the government to make domestic quality standards mandatory for imports to prevent cheap quality products flooding the market.

Dry battery makers, including Eveready, Indo National and Panasonic, have successfully made a case before the government to explore the option of making domestic quality standards compulsory for imports to prevent cheap poor quality imports from China entering Indian market.

"While there is now BIS standard for dry cell batteries, the industry has approached the government with a plea to make those standards mandatory so that Indian market is not flooded by cheap low quality products that pose health hazards and also damage equipment. The process has been initiated though the formal decision is yet to happen," Subhomoy Saha, finance director, Eveready Industries told dna.

Bureau of Indian Standards, or BIS, under consumer affairs and public distribution ministry comes out with more than 300 new standards a year, some of which are to be followed by manufacturers compulsorily while most, like those for dry cell batteries, are non-mandatory.

"If standards are made mandatory, batteries being imported into the country won't get cleared by the customs authorities unless such products bears certification for fulfilling those parameters," he said.

The move by the Association of Indian Dry Cell Manufacturers seeking non-tariff barriers to cheap imports comes after an earlier initiative by the industry body to make the commerce ministry start investigation into possible dumping by China.

The Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties in October initiated the probe into alleged dumping of batteries by China and Vietnam following representation by the association.

Product under consideration for the purpose of investigation is AA-size dry cell batteries, also called zinc carbon pencil batteries. Rechargeable batteries, alkaline batteries, AAA batteries, D-size and C-size batteries are beyond the scope of the present investigation.

"Once the anti-dumping duties are imposed and BIS norms are made mandatory, we would see growth in battery sales in coming days," Amritanshu Khaitan, managing director of Eveready, said.

Eveready in the third quarter saw flattish sales of Rs 340 crore mainly due to dumping and muted demand growth though bottomline improved by 11% at Rs 17 crore due to cost cuts and lower commodity prices.

(This news story is from DNA India)