New Delhi: India on Thursday prohibited the imports of air conditioners-both split and window- with refrigerants. Their imports were free till now.

“Import policy of air conditioners with refrigerants…is amended from ‘free’ to ‘prohibited’,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification.

India imported ACs worth $158.87 million in the April-July period with more than 97% ($154.85 million) coming in from China and Thailand.

While India has already restricted the imports of tyres, some televisions and toys through licenses and quality control orders to check unnecessary imports from China, Thursday’s order is a blanket ban on import of ACs with refrigerants.

India’s imports from China were $16.6 billion in the April-July period while exports were $7.27 billion. India’s trade deficit with China in FY20 was $48.65 billion.

“ACs with refrigerants were on the government’s radar for quite some time as they have Chlorofluorocarbons which are harmful to the environment. Moreover, the technology used to make ACs is not very difficult and domestic industry can easily catch up,” said an expert on manufacturing issues.

As per the expert, the notification has come before the onset of winters and the festive season when there is sufficient inventory to meet demand.

In a separate notification, the DGFT freed up the export of alcohol-based hand sanitisers in containers with dispenser pumps. Their exports were prohibited in June in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The export of alcohol-based hand sanitisers in containers with dispenser pumps is free for export making export of alcohol-based hand sanitisers in any form/ packaging freely exportable, with immediate effect,” DGFT said.

On March 24, India had prohibited the exports of hand sanitisers, soaps, washing and cleaning preparations, disinfectants and medicaments. It had also banned the export of ventilators, artificial respiratory apparatus, oxygen therapy apparatus, and any other breathing appliance due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

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