Customs department proposes Universal Seal Reader to expedite cargo clearance
August 25, 2023

Customs department proposes Universal Seal Reader to expedite cargo clearance

India negotiating Mutual Recognition Agreement for AEO program with foreign countries to reduce dwell time

The Customs Commissioners from India’s leading ports, viz. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNCH) and the Mumbai Port Trust shared the various digitization initiatives to expedite EXIM cargo clearance process at an Open House Meeting organised by All India Association of Industries (AIAI) and WTC Mumbai.

“The Jawaharlal Nehru Customs House (JNCH), India’s largest customs house in terms of container handling, has initiated the process to introduce Universal Seal Reader (USR) to expedite processing of shipping bills. Such an Universal Seal Reader will streamline processing of shipping bill by facilitating paper-less process and real time tracking of cargo. It will eliminate the need for registration of self-sealed containers at the customs when they arrive at the parking plaza. JNCH has tasked the Custodian of its Centralised Parking Plaza (CPP) to create software application for integration of all the 16 vendors of electronic self-seal so that the data of the self-sealed export containers can be automatically integrated with the customs ICEGATE, thereby eliminating the need for scanning the electronic seal individually,” said Mr. Rajesh Pandey, I.R.S., Chief Commissioner of Customs, Mumbai Customs Zone – II at the Open House Meeting.

The average time taken by the Indian customs for clearance of EXIM cargo has declined by five hours to 83 hours in 2022 from the previous year because of digitization and paper-less initiatives to process shipping bills, Bill of Entry and other EXIM documents, Mr. Pandey informed.

Mr. Vivek Pandey, I.R.S., Commissioner (Import- I), Mumbai Customs Zone – I suggested importers to opt for the Anonymised Escalation Mechanism (AEM) in case their Bill of Entry is not assessed within 24 hours under the Faceless Assessment system. Importers can also raise their grievances at the Turant Suvidha Kendra to expedite cargo clearance.

Mr. R.K Singh, I.R.S, Commissioner (in-situ), PCCCO, Mumbai Customs Zone – I informed about the various steps taken to expedite issuance of Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) certification for exporters. ‘The customs department reduced the average time to issue AEO accreditation to 100 days now from more than 160 days 10 months ago. For MSME exporters, AEO T1 certification is issued in 15 days, while AEO T2 certification is issued in three months. An AEO accredited exporter avails various benefits such as deferred payment of duty, concession in mandatory bank guarantee and other customs clearance benefits.”

“India has signed mutual recognition agreements (MRA) with Taiwan, South Korea, USA and Hong Kong to expedite cargo clearance of AEO accredited exporters and importers from these countries. In future, India is planning to sign similar agreements with Malaysia, Singapore, European Union and other countries,” Mr. Singh added.

In his remarks, Mr. R.K. Mishra, I.R.S., Addl. Director General of Foreign Trade, DGFT, Mumbai informed that his office has introduced an online mechanism for applying for Export Obligation Discharge Certificate (EODC). Therefore, the need for exporters to visit the DGFT office for this certificate has been reduced to the maximum. Also, the integration of softwares between DGFT and customs authority is in place for seamless transfer of shipping bill data. the Mumbai Regional DGFT Authority is constantly in touch with the customs office to address technical glitches, if any, in transfer of shipping bill details between our systems. As a result of these steps, in the last few months, the Mumbai DGFT office has doubled the number of EODC issued from 500 per month to 1,000 per month.”

Earlier in his welcome remarks, Dr. Vijay Kalantri, President – All India Association of Industries (AIAI), Chairman – WTC Mumbai suggested, “India needs to streamline customs procedures to attain USD 1 trillion export target by 2030 and USD 5 trillion economy by 2027. The customs authority may expedite cargo clearance of genuine importers based on their past track records. They should also implement single window clearance in letter and spirit, simplify compliance procedure and reduce cargo dwell time.”

Dr. Kalantri also called for a predictable foreign trade policy, which avoids frequent ban, restriction or imposition of duties on exports and imports.

Dr. Kalantri suggested that the DGFT and customs authorities may engage with industry frequently through such Open House meetings to address customs related grievances and facilitate trade

The Open House session was moderated by Mr. Dushyant Mulani, President, Brihanmumbai Customs Brokers Association and it was attended by exporters, importers, MSME manufacturers, freight forwarders, customs brokers and other stakeholders.

Dignitaries at the Open House Meeting in WTC Mumbai. (from left to right): Mr. Dushyant Mulani, President of the Brihanmumbai Customs Brokers Association, Mr. R.K. Mishra, I.R.S., Additional Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Mumbai; Dr. Vijay Kalantri, President – All India Association of Industries (AIAI), Chairman – WTC Mumbai, Mr. Rajesh Pandey, I.R.S, Chief Commissioner of Customs, Mumbai Customs Zone-II, Mr. Vivek Pandey, I.R.S, Commissioner (Import-I), Mumbai Customs Zone-I and Mr. R. K. Singh, I.R.S, Commissioner (in-situ) at the Principal Chief Commissioner of Customs’ Office, Mumbai Customs Zone-I