Commerce Ministry approves mandatory gold hallmarking

The Commerce Ministry has approved a proposal to make BIS hallmarking mandatory for gold jewellery, but it can be implemented only after informing the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Friday.

As per global trade rules of WTO, a member country has to notify a quality control order with the Geneva-based multilateral body and the process takes about two months time.

Gold hallmarking is a purity certification of the precious metal and is voluntary in nature at present.

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), under the Consumer Affairs Ministry, is the administrative authority for hallmarking. It has set standards for hallmarking gold jewellery in three grades -- 14 carats, 18 carats and 22 carats.

"I am happy to share the Commerce Department has cleared the proposal on October 1. There is a technical issue related to the WTO (before its implementation)," Paswan told reporters.

Explaining the issue, Consumer Affairs Secretary Avinash K Srivastava said member countries of WTO have to be given two months time to respond to the quality control order notified to the WTO.

Exporting nations have to comply with the BIS quality norms specified for gold in the quality control order. India is a part of the 164-member WTO since 1995.

Currently, there are about 800 hallmarking centres across the country and only 40 per cent of the jewellery is hallmarked.

India is the largest importer of gold, which mainly caters to the demand of jewellery industry. In volume terms, the country imports 700-800 tonne of gold annually. 

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