The Ministry of Commerce has set up a Covid-19 helpdesk in order to streamline the process of exports and imports of essential items like oxygen, Covid-19 drugs and other related items. The helpdesk is aimed at speedy resolution of issues of exporters and importers pertaining to international trade such as customs clearance delays and banking matters, apart from clearing various documentation processes, according to an official statement.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) will monitor the status of exports and imports of essential items, and oversee difficulties being faced by trade stakeholders in view of the surge in Covid-19 cases. The decision was taken after various trade stakeholders sought suitable resolutions to issues arising in respect of international trade. “Helpdesk would also collect and collate trade-related issues concerning other ministries/departments/ agencies of central and state governments and will coordinate to seek their support and provide possible resolution,” the ministry said.
To handhold the trade relating to clearances, an online form has been created to seek details in a structured format and redress the grievances. “The status of resolutions and feedback may be tracked using the status tracker under the DGFT helpdesk services. Email and SMS would also be sent as and when the status are updated,” it added.
The government last week exempted basic customs duty on import of COVID vaccine, medical-grade oxygen and related equipment to boost domestic availability and make them cheaper. Accordingly, the CBIC had directed its officers to clear all import consignments, including life-saving drugs and oxygen equipment, used in Covid-19 treatment on the highest priority. “It is requested that all customs formations may be sensitised of the urgency of this matter and may be directed to give high priority for customs clearance of import of Covid-related goods,” it noted.
The CBIC has already made public the names and contact details of nodal officers for facilitating Covid-19 customs assistance to trade. The apex decision-making body has asked all customs zones to clear such items in the shortest possible time.