CLOSE ON the heels of consignments from China reportedly facing customs hurdles at a number of ports, Indian exporters have begun reporting similar issues with their shipments to the neighbouring country.
In a recent note to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), which is the apex body of export promotion councils, has said that Hong Kong and Chinese Customs were holding back export consignments from India over the last few days.
This comes at a time when relations between India and China have soured following a deadly clash between their troops in Ladakh earlier this month.
According to the representation made by FIEO, a copy of which The Indian Express has seen, some exporters have reported facing hurdles with their shipments to China. An exporter in the know said a majority of the shipments stuck for clearance at China and Hong Kong include organic chemicals.
Escalation of trade skirmishes
At around $15.5 billion, China was third largest destination for Indian shipments between April 2019 and February 2020. The exporters’ complaints coincide with reports of Chinese consignments being stuck at Indian ports.
“We have been given to understand that Customs is physically examining all imports from China, which is delaying clearance, adding to the cost of imports. While we have been told there is no official communication, but the examination is leading to piling of imports as reported in many newspapers,” stated the body in its representation.
“Some exporters have informed that, in response to such action, Hong Kong and Chinese Customs are also holding back export consignments from India,” it said.
The body has requested the ministry to take up the matter of delayed clearances at ports in India with the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) and issue a denial if no instructions had been given to customs authorities here.
Separately in a CII-organised ‘e-conference on leveraging e-SANCHIT for stronger single window system’, CBIC Chairman M Ajit Kumar said the department was trying to ensure bringing down time for clearances, so that prices come down and the goods become more competitive in international market.
“…unless we ensure that your prices come down, unless we ensure that the time taken for clearances are brought down, it really does not help us. We are truly your partners in this endeavour of yours. We are not here merely as tax collectors, we want to ensure that your time and price both come down, you become very competitive in the international market and we must ensure that you become engines of growth. That trade leads the industry and that ultimately helps the nation in becoming strong, in becoming self-reliant, Atmanirbhar Bharat by encouraging Make in India… our attempt in this regard is to ensure that you have hassle free procedures… and then you are able to get goods, manufacture goods here, export them or get them to the domestic area without much problems,” he told CII members.
“It is too early to say whether this is retaliatory action, but a small number of consignments from exporters here have been held up at ports over there,” said an exporter close to the development on condition of anonymity.
A query sent to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan on Friday night was unanswered by press time.
Meanwhile, some companies have stopped picking up shipments from China for India. DHL Express India, the Indian arm of German courier services company, in a statement said they are temporarily suspending pick up of import shipments from China, Hong Kong and Macao for the next 10 days.
“Over the last few days, we are witnessing a severe lag in customs clearance for shipments originating from China, Hong Kong and Macao across all the ports in India. This has led to uncontrollable queueing, congestion and delays of shipments in our clearance ports across the country. We want to ensure that shipments originating from other countries around the world are not impacted by this congestion. Therefore, with immediate effect, we will be temporarily suspending pick up of import shipments from China, Hong Kong and Macao for the next 10 days,” it said.
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