Pending cargo imports from China — textiles, pharmaceuticals, electronics, embellishments or engineering goods — are now being cleared by the Customs department across ports without 100 per cent physical examination. However, it may take about a week for the consignments stuck at various ports to be cleared, a government official has said.
“As consignments were piling up since June 23, it can take about a week or more for pending consignments to get cleared. The important thing is that the process has started and there is a feeling of general relief amongst the industry,” a Commerce Ministry official told.
The Customs Department had stopped clearing imports following a border conflict between the two countries that resulted in both sides trading charges. The department had informed importers in some ports that the 100 per cent physical checks that were taking place in ports was due to information about some drug trafficking taking place.
With both countries now calling for step-wise de-escalation across the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh, reconciliation may be back on the agenda.
Since early this week, ports had started clearing consignments imported by authorised economic operators, which included about 3,000 companies, and from Tuesday night, imports by pharmaceutical producers were cleared.
Since Wednesday, following representations by exporters and manufacturers dependent on Chinese imports, all ports — including Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru and Tuticorin —have started clearing consignments that were held-up, the official said.
Lack of clarity over physical checks
“We are thankful to the government for starting the clearance of imports from China across ports. We are not sure whether the 100 per cent physical checks for all consignments will be done away with as there were reports of drugs being smuggled in at Chennai port, but most imports are now being cleared,” said A Sakthivel, Chairman, Apparels Export Promotion Council (AEPC).
The AEPC had earlier written to the CBIC and the Textiles Ministry pushing for release of imported fabrics and accessories stuck at ports as it was affecting factory processes.
“Checking of consignments at ports will now not be a challenge since under the Risk Management System in various customs locations, the percentage of checks is very low”, pointed out Ajay Sahai from the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO).