–  Exporters raises issue of frequent examining of containers leading to delay and missing the vessel

New Delhi/ Gurugram, 17th June 2022: Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) organized a webinar on Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Scheme on 16th June, 2022 with Director General of Taxpayer Services (DGTS), Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance. Chairman AEPC Mr. Naren Goenka, welcomed the dignitaries and gave a keynote opening address.  Mr. Salik Parwaiz, Additional Commissioner (WCO Cell), Directorate of International Customs (DIC), made an extensive presentation on AEO Scheme giving complete background of Scheme, benefits available, types of AEO’s, procedure involved, etc. He also answered all queries raised by exporters during Q&A session. Mr Vinish Chaudhary, Additional Director, DGTS, moderated this session. Dr. L B Singhal, Secretary General AEPC gave the concluding remark. The session was attended by 250 plus exporters across India.

Opening the session, Chairman AEPC Mr. Naren Goenka said, “I am grateful to DGTS for organizing this webinar with AEPC for the benefit of the exporting community. AEO Certification programme is a very important initiative of Govt. of India, which enables Indian Customs to enhance and streamline cargo security through close cooperation with the relevant stakeholders of the international supply chain viz. importers, exporters, logistics providers, custodians or terminal operators, custom brokers and warehouse operators. AEO certification demonstrates that the role of the exporter within the international supply chain is secure and that the customs controls and procedures are efficient and compliant.

Further Chairman AEPC said, “The way forward is to adopt better systems and practices that can lead to long term growth and competitiveness of the apparel sector. In this context today’s AEO programme is very relevant as this programme not only aims to align Indian exports with the World Custom Organisations (WCO) Safe – Framework for Standards, to enhance international supply chain security through validated and robust systems – it also helps in faster movement of goods and reduced procedural barriers.”

Mr Goenka during his address said, “We have taken feedback from the Apparel Exporters for the AEO webinar, some of the exporters have pointed out that the benefits envisaged in AEO scheme, are not being fully implemented in the field. I request DGTS and the Directorate of International Customs, handling the AEO programme, that the issue which will be discussed in the webinar today, should be resolved for effective implementation of AEO Scheme.”

Indian Customs allows its AEO members with certain benefits, including: self-declaration of SION under Para 4.07A of FTP 2015-20 for AEO status holder exporters in cases where SION is not notified; Inclusion of Direct Port Delivery of imports to ensure just-in-time inventory management– clearance from dock to warehouse; Inclusion of Direct Port Entry for factory stuffed containers meant for export by AEOs; Faster disbursal of drawback amount and IGST refund; benefits of Mutual Recognition Agreements with other Customs Administrations, etc. There are multiple tiers of certification in the new AEO Programme. For importers and exporters there are three tiers providing varying levels of benefits.

Indian Customs has signed two Mutual Recognition Agreements with the Customs Administrations of South Korea and Hongkong. Future MRAs are in negotiation with the United States of America and Taiwan. MRA initiating proposals have been forwarded to major trade countries in South East Asia like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines & Indonesia. Additionally, few major regional economic blocs like the East African Community have proposed MRA with India.

The attendees’ exporters raised their queries after the presentation which was replied to by DGTS officials. The Chairman AEPC raised the issues of frequent container examination leading to inadvertent delay. Mr. Goenka said, “The problem is due to frequent examination of containers we miss the vessel and are left with no option but to send our goods through air cargo which is a very costly affair.”

In the webinar it was requested that facilities which have been envisaged in the AEO Scheme in fact be actually extended and advisory/ circular should be issued to all the field formations.

The exporters appreciated the initiative of DGTS and the Directorate of International Customs in organizing this educative and problem- resolving webinar. The webinar concluded with the thank note from Dr. L B Singhal, Secretary General AEPC.