TechNova wins for now, Indian printing associations oppose duty

Preliminary re-imposition of anti-dumping duty on offset plates

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As we wrote on 27 May 2019, (Anti-dumping inquiry on offset printing plates initiated), TechNova had initiated the imposition of anti-dumping duty on imported offset plates with the directorate general of trade remedies (DGTR) of the Ministry of Commerce of the Government of India. The DGTR via F. No.6/7/2019 issued its preliminary findings of 3 October 2019. The preliminary findings issued as a 57-page PDF document looks at the submissions by TechNova and various Indian importers of offset plates and exporters of offset plates to India.

Readers will remember that it was on 1 June 2018 that the anti-dumping duties on the import of digital offset plates from China, instituted in 2012 for five years, were rescinded (Anti-dumping duties on import of digital offset printing plates from China rescinded on 1 June 2018). These were to have expired in 2017 but were extended for one year, and a sunset review was initiated. The findings were – that continuation of the anti-dumping duties was no longer warranted.

As we wrote in May 2019, in the past year, TechNova has itself been importing offset plates from China for sale in India. Perhaps this was a way of gathering the information that helped it in its current application to have anti-dumping duties imposed again. Offset plate importers and traders commented that the largest Indian plate manufacturer is itself importing plates to satisfy the Indian market in significant quantities. In that case, how can it claim that it fulfills Indian printers’ needs as far as quality, quantity, and in terms of price-performance? We have over the years spoken to Indian printers who are in fact, impressed by the quality, competitiveness, and ready availability of imported offset plates.

We have briefly looked through the 57-page preliminary findings that suggest (in our reading) a re-imposition of anti-dumping duty to the extent of $0.0 for Kodak and Fuji China to $.89 per square meter for one of the Korean plate exporters. You can download the DGTR report by clicking on this link. While the earlier anti-dumping duty applied mainly to China, the preliminary findings this time find that offset plates sourced from China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam are under-priced. And in fact, damaging to TechNova’s market share and to its profitability – by varying extents by manufacturer and country. Industry experts say that the preliminary suggestion of the anti-dumping duty, if imposed, will cost printers approximately Rs. 40 per square meter more than they are currently paying.

The DGTR contacted various Asian manufacturers and importers of plates to fill out questionnaires, and most of them responded. The importers who responded include Kapoor Imaging Private Limited, Fujifilm India Private Limited, Kodak India Private Limited, Bright Enterprises, and Nippon Color. Additional legal submissions were received from The All India Federation of Master Printers, HT Media Ltd, Metrostar Print Solutions Pvt. Ltd, Government of Korea, Government of Taiwan, and Toray Industries, Inc.

Printers oppose anti-dumping duty on offset plates

Individual printers and various printing associations are opposed to the re-imposition of anti-dumping duties on imported offset plates. Some are already sending their objections to the concerned departments and the Ministry of Commerce of the government. Even within the PDF document, which is relatively opaque, one can see that the industry has grown as has the demand for imported offset plates.

The royalty that TechNova pays to Agfa is not stated in the report, nor are its overall costs and viability made clear – only that it has lost market share and that imports of offset plates from multiple countries have grown. It is difficult to understand why so many manufacturers would sell relatively smaller quantities of offset plates to India at a loss. At the same time, why is it that TechNova, with its near or virtual monopoly of a large and growing home market, cannot viably compete in quality and or price-performance given its local costs, logistics, and close to customer servicing. High-quality offset plates at fair market prices are seen as a critical input that can continue to keep the printing industry viable and continue to support its exports of printed books and packaging.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.

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