Import consignments from China are reportedly facing difficulties at Chennai and Mumbai ports in the country, as clearances are being delayed by Indian Customs authorities, amid the ongoing border row between the two neighbours.
However, there has been no written or verbal command from custom authorities or the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), the Indian Express reported three people in know of the matter, as saying. The hurdle in clearances is said to have started since last fortnight.
The report states that Custom authorities have not cited any particular reason to importers, while hinting at the delays. According to a Chennai-based importer, Customs officials have recommended to not deliver any container which has come from China, despite it even having been issued the Out of Charge (OOC) order for clearance.
Only after no discrepancy is found in a consignment after several proceedures for examination, is an ‘Out of Charge’ order issued for clearance from the custom area.
Clearances are being disregarded for Chinese consignments, especially for those of non-essential items, a Mumbai-based industry source told IE.
They said that certain categories of goods from China were taking longer to get cleared, as customs authorities were not immediately checking those containers.
Customs authorities have categorised the goods, and the non-essential items "have been pushed into the background for examination at a later day", the source told IE.
They added that thus, they are not saying that the examination of said items will not be carried out, but that importance is not being given to them as 'imported items from other countries'.
These delays in non-essential items are being looked at as a nudge for importers to change their import patterns from China, since consumption patterns won't change immediately, the report states.
The source said that it took some time for importers to understand the reason behind held-up consignments, adding that while there was nothing direct about the instructions from customs authorities, the message of delays for non-essential items was implicit.
They told IE that this will lead to disincentivisation, as delays in Customs clearances will lead to increase in the demurrage charges and likely offset the gains from Chinese imports for such importers.
Certain types of cargo are examined by customs authorities based on intelligence inputs as part of the routine inspections, and some of the import consignments in question are from China, a senior official in the Chennai Customs zone told IE.
Fourteen per cent of India's total imports are from China. The report states that possible curbs on imports from the neighbouring country in the form of tariff or non-tariff barriers are being discussed with the government.