Indian customs authorities could soon start inspecting all import consignments from China at ports and airports across the country following heightened security concerns after the skirmish at the border, people familiar with the development said. This 100 per cent check of imports from China could lead to delay in the release of consignments, a non-tariff barrier possibly aimed at curbing imports from the country.
Chennai is one of the first ports to opt for such closer scrutiny of Chinese imports. Industry insiders say Chennai is the key port for import of telecom parts and equipment by many Chinese companies operating in the country. It is also a major port for import of auto components from China.
There is no formal instruction to stop clearances, but importers have not been able to secure release of consignments, one of the people quoted above said. “Importers have been told that consignments need to be examined and sanitised for Covid19 with due procedures,” said an industry expert adding that the move seems to have been prompted by an alert.
“100 per cent physical examination means delay in clearances,” said another person privy to the development. The development rattled the industry with multiple consignments getting stuck prompting some of the importers to take up the issue with local customs officials. “Authorities have assured that the issue would be resolved soon,” said an official with an export body. Customs authorities also played down the industry’s concerns over the clearance issues.
A senior customs official in Chennai said that checking of consignments coming from China was being done as per system generated routine checks, and that individual scrutiny of each consignment would not be physically possible. “System generated checks are going on… doing it for each container would be a huge time taking exercise,” the official said.
There are about 300-500 bills from China which are cleared on a daily basis at Chennai customs, which is a large chunk of the overall numbers. If consignments of any country coming in large numbers are halted, it could lead to the ports getting choked and massive time delays in products reaching the end destination, the official added.