Advanced cargo information system – another tool to enhance EODB in India?

Taking inspiration from the United States’ advanced passenger information system, India is working on its own model of an advanced cargo information system. It is expected to enhance the ease of doing business (EODB) at various freight movement nodes, by allowing immediate customs clearance of imports with scrutiny limited to a risk-based assessment of shipments.

According to sources, the system would give the Customs authorities information on the contents of the cargo yet to arrive at the ports/airports, along with its arrival time. As a result, if everything else is good to go, the decision to pre-clear or hold the cargo can be taken by Customs in advance. Other agencies involved in vetting the import cargo, such as plant quarantine, can also carry out their checks on the basis of the data from this assessment system.

A pilot to test pre-arrival cargo data exchange is already on with the Maldives and discussions are now on with countries including South Korea to expand this system. An agreement for the pre-arrival exchange of country-of-origin certificates under the advanced cargo information system has also been signed between New Delhi and South Korea. It is also possible that the information exchange agreement becomes a part of all future trade agreements between India and other countries.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs is working on the initiative as part of customs facilitation to further improve the ease of doing business in the country. Pre-arrival data exchange could form part of a future revamp of the country’s customs framework to boost trade facilitation.

Such a system is expected to not just aid expeditious identification and tracking of suspicious goods but also come in handy in the verification of country-of-origin certificates with countries with whom India has a trade agreement.

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