Indo-German Collaboration in Times of the Corona Pandemic: Online Exchange with Industry on Technical Market Access Challenges

The Global Project Quality Infrastructure (GPQI) in cooperation with the German Embassy and the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC) organised an online exchange on “Technical Market Access Challenges in India - In Times of the Corona Pandemic” on 2 June 2020. The online exchange was attended by around 60 experts and representatives of German companies operating in India.

 

COVID-19 confronts businesses with unprecedented challenges. Questions of business continuity, transparency and reliability of supply chains as well as product quality and safety have become a focus of attention. Also, beyond COVID-19, ensuring internationally harmonised standards and coherent regulatory practices is critical for keeping consumers safe and facilitating trade.

 

Dr Jörg Polster, head of the Economic Department of the German Embassy, reported that the number of technical barriers to trade with India has increased significantly in recent years. Providing support for German companies in addressing barriers is therefore of growing relevance. His colleague Nathalie Gminder introduced the ‘fast track’ mechanism, which was established between both governments in 2015 to enhance ease of doing business for companies and investors.

 

Gerhild Roth from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) underlined the importance of securing a free, transparent and rules-based international trade system. The bilateral cooperation within the framework on the Indo-German Working Group on Quality Infrastructure is becoming even more relevant and timely amid the COVID-19 pandemic and its expected effects on global trade, she said.

 

Bernhard Steinrücke, Director General of IGCC, shared insights from a recent white paper on the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on German companies in Maharashtra, India. Shortage of migrant labourers and supply chain disruptions are major challenges, he said. He emphasised that in the current situation key challenges include financial, contract and commercial law, as well as labour and quality aspects.

 

GPQI-India introduced the project and its relevance in the current situation. A live poll during the online exchange showed that many businesses and sectors face technical barriers to trade such as lack of clarity on new technical regulations, lack of harmonisation with international standards or certificates which are not recognised in India. Almost two thirds of participants expect such barriers to increase over the next three years. The Indo-German Working Group on Quality Infrastructure provides an opportunity for the industry to get involved, find solutions for technical and regulatory challenges, contribute to expert exchanges and collaborate on topics such as standardisation, technical regulation, and market surveillance across different sectors.

 

During the online exchange participants discussed issues such as the need to defer implementation of upcoming technical regulations such as automotive safety glass. Moreover, participants expressed interest in cooperating on certification for information security and making online access to Indian Standards easier. The discussion continued after the webinar with participants informing GPQI through email about further concerns and questions for instance in the electrical equipment and medical sectors.

 

In case you are a German company and are operating in India or planning to do so, and are facing technical market access barriers, please contact us at qi-india@giz.de

 

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) has set up the Global Project Quality Infrastructure (GPQI) to engage in technical and political dialogues with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico to reduce technical barriers to trade, enhance product safety, and strengthen consumer protection. As part of GPQI, GIZ – the German Agency for International Cooperation – has been commissioned by BMWi to support the implementation of the project in India within the framework of the Indo-German Working Group on Quality Infrastructure.

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