WASHINGTON - U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick welcomed the July 29 decision of the Indian Supreme Court to remove an injunction barring U.S. soda ash exports to India, allowing the U.S. industry to immediately resume exporting this important raw material.
"USTR has pressed hard for the Government of India to allow imports of our soda ash, and I raised the issue again when I was in Delhi last August. I am pleased that the Supreme Court decision opens the way for our exporters to ship soda ash to India. This action should resolve a six-year-old trade dispute between the United States and India," said Zoellick.
After a 1996 Indian tariff reduction on soda ash, the American Natural Soda Ash Corporation (ANSAC) sought to export a single shipment. The Indian soda ash industry, claiming ANSAC used predatory pricing, sought and won an injunction from the Indian Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC). The Indian soda ash industry includes three companies that control over 85 percent of the Indian market.
The Indian Supreme Court on July 29 held that MRTPC improperly issued the injunction. The Court unanimously ruled that no case had been made under Indian antitrust law for such an order.
Soda ash is an essential raw material used in the production of glass, detergents, and other products. The United States has the largest deposits of natural soda ash in the world, located primarily in Wyoming, Colorado and California. The U.S. industry exported more than $500 million of high quality soda ash to nearly 50 countries in 2001, which supported nearly 20,000 U.S. jobs.