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Customs Seeks to Put Exports in Cruise Mode

Customs Seeks to Put Exports in Cruise Mode
Cargo to bypass inspectors, to sport RFID chip from Oct
Keen to reduce inspector raj from movement of India's exports, the customs department is devising a plan that will allow goods to move from factory to ships without any checks.From October, consignments would not be required to be sealed in the presence of inspectors. Instead they will sport an RFID chip with details of the consignment that can be accessed by a reader.

“Supervised sealing of containers will be discontinued from October,“ said a government official. Instead, electronic self-sealing with RFID chip will be introduced, the official added. Only those consignments with perceived risk will be closely examined.

This would enable cargo to move expeditiously and prevent unnecessary hold ups at ports bringing down transaction cost of exporters and also chances of corruption.

The development follows the risk based assessment introduced by the Customs through SWIFT, or Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade, in April this year. Self-sealing is available to a small category of exporters, but most do not opt for it as their containers are then opened at ports.Sealing in presence of excise inspector, despite the attendant issues, ensured that containers were not opened later.

The latest move is also in line with the rollout of goods and services tax (GST) that allows se amless flow of information about company and its business to tax authorities, thus eliminating the need of the presence of inspectors during sealing.

The industry , however, wants the government to give it some time to sort out the technology aspect of the process for a smooth transition.

“We have asked the Central Board of Excise and Customs to give us some more time,“ said Ajay Sahai, director general, Federation of Indian Export Organisations.

India is placed 133 in the World Bank's ease of doing business rankings, though it made substantial improvement in its performance on the Customs front.

The government has adopted a national trade facilitation action plan while the SWIFT system allows importers and exporters to file just one form at ports for clearance from all agencies including the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Drug Controller General of India and Plant Quarantine and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau.

The foreign trade policy announced in 2015 has set export target of $900 billion by 2020.In 2016-17, India's merchandise shipments aggregated at $275 billion.

The Times of India, New Delhi, 26th August 2017

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