India has proposed imposing customs duties on computer-aided design, or CAD, files, which are necessary for 3D printing, while pitching its case for countries to be able to tax electronic transmissions.
Electronic transmissions are at present immune from taxation in the World Trade Organization (WTO) under a moratorium. If the moratorium continues, India argued at the WTO, foreign firms will be able to export any software duty-free to developing countries to 3D print products that they currently manufacture. This will lead to “disruption in traditional manufacturing, resulting in job losses and decline in incomes” especially in textiles and clothing, footwear, auto-components, toys, mechanical appliances and hand tools, it said.
India and South Africa have been arguing that the e-commerce moratorium, giving immunity to e-transmissions, has led to loss of revenue and had taken away policy space from developing countries. “An important policy instrument available for this purpose would be to impose customs duties on CAD files necessary for 3D printing,” India said at WTO’s General Council meeting earlier this week.