India is holding talks with other countries to establish mutual recognition of the AEO (Authorised Economic Operators) programme. The initiative involves creating trade privileges for trusted logistics players, importers, and exporters, which will be honoured by and extend into other countries as part of multi-lateral deals. Countries under discussion include: Japan, Russia, Australia, the UAE, and East African Community countries.
Approximately a quarter of India’s merchandise imports in FY23 stemmed from importers who were accredited to the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), with the scheme aimed at ensuring smooth, hassle-free movement of goods at ports. Over 1000 “authorised economic operators” were recorded in 2022-23, highlighting the importance placed on supply chain security standards.
The AEO programme seeks, amongst other benefits, to enable quicker shipment clearances, lower inspection rates, expedited tax refunds, deferred duty payment, and acceptance of self-declaration of origin of goods. The AEO programme additionally allows registered companies to make customs declarations using streamlined processes online. In the last financial year, the average processing time reduced by 56 days to 104 days for AEO applications, processing a total of 1,089 entries with more than 5,370 accredited businesses as of April. Overall, the AEO scheme represented imports worth more than ₹1.72tn, equivalent to one-quarter of all Bills of Entry logged in 2022-23.
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