Stakeholders’ reactions about its pros and cons
With already pressurised situation due to different challenges like increase in fuel and most of the consumables prices, labour costs, power tariff, real estate prices, etc, now it was the turn of digital plates. In the wake of the proceedings initiated by Ministry of Finance, Govt of India on the appeal of TechNova Imaging, the sole manufacturer of digital and analogue aluminum plates in India, with over 70 percent market share, a provisional anti-dumping duty has been announced on June 04, 2012. With this additional duty, all printers using digital plates coming from China and Japan (any brand) will have to shell out extra money in the range of 25-40 percent depending on violet, thermal or CtcP plates. This will result into further increase in the cost of jobs, printed by using those digital plates.
Nevertheless, printers’ community seems giving lukewarm support and objections to the move. While talking to P&P, the- mixed reactions were conveyed by most of the printers/prepress bureaus. Commenting on this duty imposition many printers do not appreciate the move at all, but still they wish to avoid voicing their concerns. Some are arguing in favour of the move underlining the importance to protect the domestic manufacturer, but they are also not ready to engage in the dialogue While directly interested parties in this issue continue pointing out pros and cons of imposing the anti-dumping duty on digital plates. Emphasizing on ‘domestic production of plates is not viable without a level playing field’, Pranav Parikh, chairman and managing director of TechNova (domestic manufacturer) highlights why imposing such duty is must and beneficial for printers taking it in long term perspective. On the other hand, importing and supplying the plates which are subject to anti-dumping duty, Creed Engineers’ (suppliers of Vinsak brand plates) managing director Ranesh Bajaj points out substantial loss to the printers’ community due to this move, and hopes that printers community will keep fighting for ending such duties. An instance of KMPA is the live example even today, who are making all their efforts to oppose it strongly.
on the move
‘Domestic production of plates is not viable without a level playing field’
says Pranav Parikh, chairman and managing director of TechNova.
P&P: How happy or satisfied you are after the imposition of provisional anti-dumping duty? Has the duty been imposed as per your wishlist?
Pranav Parikh: We have to await the final outcome. Our greatest concern is that by resorting to the reference price mechanism instead of the standard mechanism of fixed anti-dumping duty, the DGAD proposal of reference price based anti-dumping duty has made it possible for the importers to totally evade the anti-dumping duty. They could over-invoice the imports at prices equal to the reference prices and pay no duties. The difference between the invoiced price and the actual price would then be reimbursed to the importer by the exporter through dubious means. This is exactly what is happening with PS plates for which reference price based anti-dumping duty has been in place for the past four years.
P&P: Will this move stop 100 percent import of digital plates? In that case are you ready with supplies to meet the demand?
Pranav Parikh: Anti-dumping duties are not designed to stop imports. They merely ensure that exports to India occur at prices comparable with the prices at which they are exported from China to other countries. Dumping from China at prices designed to kill the domestic Indian industry is sought to be prevented.
TechNova has more than adequate capacity to fulfill domestic demand for the next several years. As you are aware, we already supply over 70 percent of digital and analog aluminium plates and 100 percent of inkjet and laser metal and polyester plates. The relevant questions are: If TechNova ceases to exist due to non-imposition of effective anti-dumping duty, will the Chinese exporters be able to fulfill the total domestic demand of India? Why would they export to India at the current prices or which are 30-40 percent lower than their international prices? Will they be able to guarantee off-the-shelf delivery across the country? Will they be able to provide 24x7 tech-support services across India?
Moreover, approx 25,000 tiny and small printers depend solely on TechNova for inkjet and toner-based, metal and polyester CtP systems. TechNova happens to be the only manufacturer of these plates in the world. Can they afford to switch to thermal or violet or UV CtP system?
P&P: It is observed that quite a few printers/associations were not convinced with your move. Were they wrong in their perceptions?
Pranav Parikh: I would urge them to believe us when we say that domestic production of plates is not viable without a level playing field. I would urge them to consider whether our industry is better off by allowing the MNCs to kill a local producer of plates who happens to be the only independent (non-MNC) producer in the world of the full range of digital & analog offset plates.
P&P: With the substantial increase of duty for CtcP plates, don’t you feel this technology may greatly diminish in India?
Pranav Parikh: The anti-dumping duty will not affect the prices of TechNova’s UV CtP plates. We will continue to abide by our declared pricing formula & guidelines linked to input costs. As mentioned above, currently we supply over 70 percent of the consumption of UV CtP plates in India and have the capacity to also supply the remaining 30 percent.
Against the move
KMPA highlights solid reasons to oppose this anti-dumping duty
Among those who are against the move of imposing anti-dumping duty on digital plates, Kerala Master Printers’ Association (KMPA), representing printers’ community of India’s southwestern state Kerala, has clearly come at front citing solid reasons for their stand regarding this issue. Through its official journal Print Miracle, KMPA has conveyed why they are opposing anti-dumping duty on CtP.
In four page article, written by Jose Joseph, senior member of KMPA elaborated its perspective about the issue, citing how the imposition of such duty will affect the interest of printers’ community in Kerala. Quoting Kochi based Anaswara Offset managing director O Venugopal, it has been mentioned that ADD is imposed on imported digital plates which are used by many printers in Kerala, the plate production cost will go up by at least 25-30 percent more. In fact, increase in printing plate price whether it is imported or manufactured domestically will affect printers in Kerala very badly. This to say that printers in Kerala have no particular love for imported printing plates, they have nothing against domestically manufactured TechNova plates too. What they need is quality plates at affordable prices.
In the journal, it has also been noted that the sole object of the anti-dumping duty application by the domestic manufacturer is to increase the price of imported plates and systematically eliminate competition from importers. Naturally, when the price of the imported plates becomes unaffordable to the printers, they will be forced to buy TechNova plates. And then, after TechNova establishes a complete monopoly in supplying digital printing plates in India, they will slowly increase their prices.
Giving a graph showing how TechNova’s price remained high while LME aluminium price went down, KMPA underlined that TechNova continued hiking the price of plates as they whished without appropriately following the provisions of an MoU signed by TechNova and AIFMP in 2007.
Mentioning that TechNova has never tolerated a competition from any body, and swallowed Stovec and Niraj, the company’s two former competitors, to established its domestic monopoly, it has alleged that TechNova has been misguiding and manipulating the printers of India and have used All India Federation of Master Printers (AIFMP) for this purpose all the while.
The journal further mentioned that in the present situation, TechNova is creating an impression of a possible scenario of closing down their factory as the company has suffered material injury due to non-implementation of ADD on digital printing plates, and falsely implying that the country will see the death of a domestic manufacturer and a foreign players like Fuji and Kodak will exploit the printers of India.
‘Battle may be lost on digital plates but the war is not’
Says Ranesh Bajaj, managing director, Creed Engineers Pvt Ltd
P&P: How unhappy you are after the imposition of anti dumping duty on digital plates and upto what extent it will affect imports? Any percentage wise evaluation?
Ranesh Bajaj: We are not unhappy but really disappointed with the imposition of interim duty. It must be noted that as on date the duty is interim and only till the final findings are published. We will of course continue to raise our voice with the GOI to recalculate the figures and take a decision which is in the interest of the print community at large. The increase in price will be about Rs 40 to 50 per square metre in thermal and violet to about Rs 80 to 100 in the CtcP range for imported plates. As commented earlier as well, the highest loss will be to small and medium printer who had invested into the cost effective CtcP systems based on plate pricing and will now be left high and dry and in fact will have to pay for lower resolution plates at the costs close to that of thermal plates.
P&P: It is observed that quite a few printers were not convinced for going against anti-dumping duty imposition. Were they right in their perception?
Ranesh Bajaj: We leave this for the printers to answer. The only reason we need to understand is that if an action is going to increase the input cost of a printer, should the association of printers be supportive of this action? And if it is, what are the reasons that the leaders have to explain to their members. It is then for the members to evaluate the reasons and motives behind such support. The other issue is the fear psychosis that not just the printers but all Indians have to come out of. If something is not right, we live in a democracy and have the right to stand up and voice our opinion about it with fear or favour.
P&P: With the imposition of provisional duty so announced, what percentage of cost increase is going to be there? How much a printer has to spend extra with a consumption of approx 2,000 sq m of digital plates every month in case it continues using imported stuff?
Ranesh Bajaj: Given below is the per annum loss structure to a middle level printer who just have 2-3 four-colour machines, for a consumption of 2,000 sq m of digital plates. It varies between Rs 22 lac per annum to Rs 31 lac per annum based on the technology of digital that it was using. In case of thermal, violet, and UV CtP, the net loss will be around Rs 22 lac, Rs 23 lac and Rs 31 lac, respectively.
P&P: What’s ahead now?
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