US, Canada, Taiwan Question BIS on Toys, Chemicals, ICT Products and Auto at WTO

·         BIS possesses the authority to recognise laboratories for the purposes of standardization and quality control, including institutions outside of India. However, the process through which institutions can obtain recognition is unclear and lacks transparency.

·         Results from these laboratories are not being accepted as proof of compliance.

·         No US or Canadian toy company has secured an inspection of a manufacturing facility.

·         Testing of every import shipment of toys along with on-site sampling at the manufacturing facility.

·         Foreign laboratory test results from International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation-accredited labs as proof of compliance with Indian requirements.

·         National standards keep pace with the relevant international standards as divergences between standards can result in products which are less safe.

Canada, Taiwan and the US have alleged that the process of recognition of laboratories by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is unclear and lacks transparency, and raised concerns at India‘s quality control orders for toys, chemicals, ICT products and automobile parts.

In a submission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) last week, they also asked India to reinstate full and permanent recognition of results from internationally accredited labs. Citing difficulties with foreign inspections due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lack of virtual audits, they said a “total halt in exports by US and Canadian companies occurred, and trade continues to be greatly impacted”.

“We also understand that BIS possesses the authority to recognise laboratories for the purposes of standardization and quality control, including institutions outside of India. However, the process through which institutions can obtain recognition is unclear and lacks transparency,” they said.

They said that at present, exporters whose products have already been certified by accredited international laboratories report that results from these laboratories are not being accepted as proof of compliance with the requirements of the Compulsory Registration Order and the Mandatory Testing and Certification of Telecommunications Equipment scheme.

“As a result, exporters are forced to undertake duplicative testing…This is especially important where compliance with previously voluntary India-specific standards has become mandatory,” they said, citing American companies testing to international standards to have their products undergo duplicative testing in case of polyethylene products and toys.

“The paper came out last week and is being reviewed,” said an official. “To date, no US or Canadian toy company has secured an inspection of a manufacturing facility,” they said, on India requiring testing of every import shipment of toys along with on-site sampling at the manufacturing facility.

They argued that this raises “serious concerns about the treatment of foreign suppliers, which are subject to various conformity assessment procedures requiring foreign inspection across sectors, including automotives, chemicals, and toys”.

The three WTO members urged New Delhi to accept foreign laboratory test results from International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation-accredited labs as proof of compliance with Indian requirements and ensure that India’s national standards keep pace with the relevant international standards as divergences between standards can result in products which are less safe.