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Quality complaints and trade dispute solutions for exporters and importers in global trade, from professional DGFT consultants.

Quality Complaints and Trade Disputes in DGFT

In the realm of international trade, projecting a positive image of the exporting country and fostering enduring relationships with foreign buyers are essential elements for success. Central to this endeavour is the need to address quality complaints and trade disputes amicably and promptly. 

This comprehensive guide explores the mechanisms, obligations, and valuable role of DGFT professionals in navigating the landscape of trade disputes and quality complaints.


In the dynamic world of global commerce, maintaining a positive image is a must for exporters. This involves not only delivering high-quality products but also effectively addressing any quality complaints or trade disputes that may arise during business. 

Timely resolution is key to fostering enduring relationships with foreign buyers and creating a conducive business environment. This being said, let us try to understand the topic in a simple yet comprehensive way.

What is a Trade Dispute

A trade dispute refers to a conflict or disagreement between two or more parties involved in international trade. Such disputes can arise from various issues, including disagreements over the terms of a contract, quality complaints, non-compliance with trade agreements, or violations of trade regulations. 

Trade disputes can involve governments, businesses, or individuals and may lead to legal actions, negotiations, or other resolution mechanisms to address conflicting interests and reach a settlement. Resolving trade disputes is crucial for maintaining a stable and fair global trading environment, and of course, your reputation in the market!

Quality Complaints and Trade Disputes

Quality complaints and trade disputes can encompass various issues, including complaints from foreign buyers about the poor quality of products supplied by Indian exporters. Importers may also raise concerns about the quality of products supplied by foreign entities. 

Additionally, complaints related to unethical commercial dealings, such as non-supply or partial supply of goods, deviations from agreed specifications, non-payment, and delivery schedule non-adherence, fall under the purview of quality complaints and trade disputes.

Obligations on Importers and Exporters

Rule 11 of the Foreign Trade (Regulation) Rules, 1993, outlines obligations on importers and exporters concerning the accurate declaration of the value, quality, and description of goods during importation or exportation. 

Violation of these provisions can lead to penal action against exporters. Some export commodities are subject to Compulsory Quality Control & Pre-shipment Inspection, and exporters failing to conform to standards may face penal action under the Export (Quality Control & Inspection) Act, of 1963.

Legal Framework for Action

Under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992, and Foreign Trade (Regulation) Rules, 1993, several provisions empower the Directorate General of Foreign Trade to take action against erring exporters or importers. 

This includes:

  • the suspension or cancellation of Importer Exporter Code Numbers
  • refusal to grant or renew licenses, certificates, or scrips,
  • and imposing fiscal penalties for contravention of provisions.

Mechanism for Handling Complaints and Disputes

To address the increasing number of complaints and disputes, a ‘Committee on Quality Complaints and Trade Disputes‘ (CQCTD) is constituted in the regional offices of DGFT. 

The CQCTD, chaired by the Head of Office, plays a crucial role in investigating and resolving quality-related complaints and trade disputes. Its functions include enquiring into grievances, taking effective steps for resolution within three months, and seeking assistance from relevant entities when necessary.

CQCTD Proceedings and Legal Recourse

CQCTD proceedings are reconciliatory in nature, emphasising effective resolution. However, parties involved in the dispute are free to pursue legal recourse against each other if they remain dissatisfied with the committee’s decision. This dual approach ensures flexibility and fairness in addressing trade disputes.

Procedures for Dealing with Complaints and Disputes

The procedures for making applications related to complaints or trade disputes and the detailed process for handling such grievances are outlined in the Handbook of Procedures

This comprehensive resource serves as a guide for businesses, offering insights into the steps involved in seeking resolution through the established mechanisms.

Corrective Measures and Assessments

The Committee at the regional level can authorise bodies like the Export Inspection Agency or technical authorities to assess technical failures, manufacturing or design defects, and adherence to standards in response to received complaints. This adds a layer of objectivity to the resolution process, ensuring a thorough examination of the issues raised.

Nodal Officer for Coordination

Recognising the need for seamless coordination, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade appoints a Nodal Officer at the headquarters. 

This officer, not below the rank of Joint Directorate General, plays a crucial role in coordinating with various Regional Authorities of DGFT, streamlining communication, and ensuring a cohesive approach to handling complaints and disputes.


In conclusion, addressing quality complaints and trade disputes is important for maintaining a robust and positive environment for international trade. DGFT professionals, through the CQCTD, act as facilitators in this process, ensuring fair and timely resolution. 

Businesses engaged in global commerce must understand their obligations, the legal framework, and the mechanisms available to them for addressing grievances effectively. With a focus on transparency, compliance, and proactive engagement, exporters and importers can navigate the complexities of trade disputes and quality complaints, contributing to a resilient global business ecosystem. 

This was a comprehensive guide that hopefully serves as a valuable resource for export-import businesses looking to enhance their understanding and approach to these critical aspects of international trade.

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