Indian imports slowed by technical glitch in new customs clearance platform

Indian importers and supply chain actors are struggling with customs clearance due to serious disruptions on the national electronic data exchange platform Icegate.

As a result, import containers are piling up at ports across the country, according to industry sources.

Stakeholders are concerned about the inability to pay customs duties through the electronic gateway, an issue that first surfaced when authorities rolled out the new system on April 1.

Many industry groups, including the Brihanmumbai Customs Brokers Association (BCBA) of clearing agents in Mumbai, have sounded the alarm, urging government policymakers to step in and find a swift solution.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) said it was making every effort to put things in order. It stated, “Our technical teams are working overtime to fix some teething problems and the problems identified temporarily will be fixed at the earliest.”

A Mumbai-based ocean freight forwarder said clearing agents did not come forward to pick up delivery orders for vessels that themselves arrived last week. Containers that cross docks are usually at risk of demurrage and other penalties, with disputes often ending in lengthy court cases.

Inbound air cargo shipments are also facing similar customs difficulties, a source said.

The Indian freight industry has seen a series of technological shifts and reforms designed to simplify doing business in recent years as the nation tries to keep up with evolving global supply chain dynamics.

New Delhi recently launched a broader digital platform dubbed the National Logistics Portal (NLP) that offers users a “one-stop logistics experience” with a focus on visibility and transparency.

The government said the platform “aims to connect all logistics industry stakeholders using IT to improve efficiency and transparency by reducing costs and time delays, and achieving simpler, faster and more competitive service offerings to support the growth of the logistics sector.” promote and thereby improve trade”.

Additionally, efforts are underway for a new electronic customs program to tighten export/import cargo manifestations, known as Sea Cargo Manifest and Transshipment (SCMT) Regulations. Broadly speaking, it is similar to the 24-hour extended manifest rule for US cargo.

But current obstacles to import clearance coincide with Indian export flows facing bottlenecks as a result of significant cuts in berth capacity at the Port of Nhava Sheva (JNPT), with movements of perishables bearing the brunt of the congestion.

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