The Indian government has said that there won’t be any change in its food packaging or labelling rules for imported American items. The rules mandate that MRP (Maximum Retail Price) and category be printed on the packet, and not just stickered on at the port, as requested by the US, since the latter is prone to tampering.
Last week, a meeting took place between India’s commerce secretary and the deputy US trade representative.
There, the Indian Government made it clear to the US that the country’s labelling requirements, which are Codex-compliant, are applicable – without any discrimination, to all countries.
It’s important to note here that the Codex Alimentarius Commission creates harmonized international food standards to ensure fair trade practices and protect the health of customers. This intergovernmental body is a joint initiative between the WHO and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) of the United Nations.
What Both Sides Say About Indian Government’s Food Packaging & Labelling Norms
An Indian government official, speaking anonymously, said they have asked the U.S to let them know where they aren’t Codex-compliant. The official further added that when India exports to the US, the latter requires that the former print the MRP in dollars.
They would hardly accept if the MRP was printed in euro.
The FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) also insists that all imported food packaging should have their types— non-vegetarian or vegetarian—printed on the packets and not stickered on, to steer clear of tampering.
The US has claimed that India’s standard packaging size is different from the one accepted internationally. However, an Indian official said that the packaging standards of the country are same for all imports coming from the entire world. Thus, India isn’t discriminating against any particular country.
He also said that when people intend to export to a country, they have to abide by the importing country’s requirements.
The matter has already discussed been Rita Teaotia – India’s commerce secretary and Robert Holleyman – the deputy US trade representative when they met to talk about the schedule for the next round of ministerial-level meetings of the TPF (trade policy forum) in the US. India put forward a proposal to organise the 9th TPF meeting by the end of October.
After the 8th TPF, a joint statement issued by both the sides had signalled some progress on the food packaging and labelling issue.
It’s worth mentioning here that the US is the second largest trading partner of India, after China. In 2014-15, India’s export stood at $42.4 billion while it imported goods worth $21.8 billion.
During this period, exports experienced 8.45% growth, while imports reduced by 3%.