The US, China, Japan and four others at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have asked India to roll back its customs tariffs on telecom and other products such as mobile phones and cameras.

These countries have alleged that the application of tariffs, which was as high as 20 per cent for some items, above India’s bound rates (tariff ceilings committed to at the WTO), was inconsistent with India’s WTO commitments.

While discussing the issue of India’s customs duties on telecom and other products, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and the US pointed out that the matter had been repeatedly taken up at various councils including the Council for Trade in Goods and the ICT Committee in the past many years.

According to industry sources, the countries called on India to provide duty-free access for information and communication technology (ICT) and telecom equipment products for which India has a WTO commitment to do so.

In its argument, India said that items such as telephone sets, including telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks, transmission apparatus for radio-broadcasting or television, television cameras, digital cameras and video camera recorders and microphones, loudspeakers, headphones and earphones, among others were not covered under WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA) as these did not exist in 1996 and the tariff lines were not included in the pact.

The EU, Japan and Chinese Taipei had earlier lodged a dispute against India at the WTO on the issue and requested the formation of a panel.