Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI), an industry group that represents global medical technology majors, has sought to reduce the difference between the custom duties on high tech medical equipment levied by India and neighbouring countries to avoid possibility of smuggling of low volume, high value devices into the country.
The association said India’s high customs duties have not only caused adverse impact on the costs of products in the country, but also increased the risk of smuggling such goods from countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan where duties are low. According to MTaI, orthopaedic appliances and artificial implants carry 8.25 per cent effective import duty in India while it is nil in Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal. The product category carries duty ranging between 0-5 per cent in Bangladesh. Similarly, surgical instruments and appliances can be imported at zero duty in Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh while India levies 8.25 per cent effective duty. In Nepal, this category attracts 5 per cent duty.
The association wants the government to streamline such tax and duty structure differences in Union Budget 2020-21 to ensure people get long-term access to quality medical devices.