Port inspections of Chinese consignments raise fears of retaliation, govt clarification expected tomorrow

chinese consignments

Consignments originating from China are being scrutinized at ports and airports, that has led to huge delays and holdups in clearing of goods ranging from electronics to pharmaceuticals.

Customs officers across the country are carrying out detailed interrogation and examination of the consignments although there has not been an official intimation on the exercise.

This exercise has led to such massive delays and holdups that Freight forwarding companies have stopped taking orders for export consignments on Wednesday as per sources.

The nationwide complete physical examination of Chinese imports is the outcome of an IT system-based alert

As per customs sources, all ports, including Nhava Sheva, Mumbai and Kolkata, as well as airports have begun physical inspections since Monday midnight.

Chennai port was the first to have begun these inspections, after which other ports and airports followed suit.

Indian goods now undergo inspection in China:

Exporters have revealed that their goods were now facing inspections at Hong Kong. The Federation of Indian Export Organisations has conveyed the matter to the government, an official with the key exporters’ body said.

Even imports from China by authorised economic operators (AEOs) will be subject to physical scrutiny.

Border hostilities:

The shipment curbs and inspections are the aftermath of border hostilities between the two countries.

Customs official said the checks were based on intelligence alerts and hence consignments of AEOs from China will also undergo inspection.

“Traded goods are being examined more closely while manufacturers’ cargo is being examined on priority,” said a source, suggesting urgency to ensure local supply chains are not restricted.
Typically, risk alerts are product specific and issued for sensitive commodities. However, in this case there is no specific item mentioned, prompting customs officials to check all consignments originating from China.

Import cargo is usually cleared based on the declaration. A physical verification implies a thorough check of all the papers filed — bills of entry, invoices, valuation of the goods declared. Additional proofs such as calculation certificates will also be verified, which which could delay clearance and add to costs of importers.

Given that China is India’s biggest source of imports, this could mean delays for many items including electronics, mobile phones, chemicals and project goods.

India imported goods worth $62.4 billion from China in the April-February period of FY20 compared with $70.3 billion in FY19.

“Customs clearing of Chinese imports is going on but is very slow due to limited manpower and need for physical examination of all cargo,” said an official.

On India’s decision to hold back Chinese imports at various ports, airports, and land ports for checking and re-examination, Sharad Kumar Saraf President, FIEO said, “We are waiting for clarity from the government. We expect that clarity from commerce ministry will come either by today evening or by tomorrow morning. India needs to have a very calibrated approach. We need to ramp up our production to curb Chinese imports. We need to take trade remedies, we are exporting a lot of raw materials like cotton, chilies, etc to China at cheaper rates. India can consider levying a cess or high duties to have a competitive advantage. Banning imports is not a solution.”

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