DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF FOREIGN TRADE (DGFT) EFFECTS BAN ON MOBILE HANDSETS WITHOUT INTERNATIONAL MOBILE EQUIPMENT IDENTITY (IMEI) NUMBER

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INDIA has restricted the import of certain mobile phones, dairy products and toys, mainly affecting China. “Import of ‘mobile handsets’ without International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number or with all zeroes IMEI is prohibited with immediate effect,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification.

IMEI code that appears on operator’s network when a call is made, helps authorities track users. Concerns were raised over usage of such phone after the terrorist attacks like the one in Mumbai in November last year and they are seen as a serious threat to security.

In a separate notification, DGFT, the nodal agency which frames India’s export and import polices, said shipments of toys that do not meet international safety standards and norms from countries across the world is banned till January 2010.

Earlier in January, India had prohibited import of toys from China on health grounds. The restriction was, however, eased later. Today’s widening of curbs assumes significance as Beijing had questioned India for not implementing safety standard norms on toys being imported from other countries. DGFT also said imports of toys accompanied by a certificate from laboratories accredited to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) would be allowed. The volume-driven, price-competitive Chinese toys are estimated to have a dominant 70% share in the global toy market. The domestic market is estimated estimated at Rs 2,500 crore. Meanwhile, shocked by surfacing of fake Chinese drugs stamped with ‘Made-in-India’ logo in Africa, the government has asked its missions in the region to step up vigil for protecting the nation’s image and market.

“Commerce and External Affairs ministries have written to our Mission in Africa that such type of things should be monitored strictly,” a senior Commerce Department official said.

Also, DGF extended the ban on import of dairy products from China for six months to ward off any threat of contaminated whitener which had caused deaths of few infants and made several thousands ill.

Import of milk and milk products were banned earlier in September last year. The ban was to expire on June 24.

Melamine, used for making plastics and fertiliser, was found in infant milk and other dairy products of several Chinese firms. The dangerous chemical can cause kidney stones as well as failure of the organ.

More than a dozen countries in Asia and Africa had also banned milk and dairy product imports from China while several others had recalled the products suspected to be contaminated.

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