COVID-19: Shipping Min seeks govt intervention for recognition of electronic trade documents
Citing bottlenecks caused in handling EXIM cargo on account of the current manual process, it sought the commerce ministry's intervention for issuing advisory to departments, including customs, and the Indian Banks Association for accepting 'electronically generated trade documentation'.India has 12 major ports -- Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) that handled nearly 705 million tonnes (MT) cargo in 2019-20.
Considering the present circumstances on account of COVID-19, the Indian Ports Association (IPA) under the aegis of the Ministry of Shipping has taken steps towards digitising some of trade related process through implementation of Port Community System (PCS), the letter said.PCS was launched in December 2018 and has managed to digitise the major part in port related activities including e-invoice, e-payment and and electronic delivery order (e-DO).
Bill of lading (BL), a critical component, however is still missing and trade bodies under the umbrella of the Federation of Indian Logistics Association (FILA) have supported the IPA initiative of eBL and identified providers like CargoX, the letter mentions."I would request you to consider issuing suitable guidelines and advisory consistent with international conventions on the subject to Departments as well as to Indian Bank Association for banks in India by accepting 'electronically generated trade documentation'. "Also, the 'stakeholders of the trade industry' such as carriers, exporters and importers can also be issued mandate to adopt and use such platforms for 'electronically generated trade documentation' including Bill of Lading (document of title) across stakeholders and across nations," the shipping secretary said.
"Such a measure shall help ease the economic and humanitarian challenges and also encourage continuity of trade and also enable trade revival in future. This will also support the Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Commerce in their efforts to ensure smooth flow of Export Import trade and release of import containers/cargo at various ports in India. Should the stakeholder or financial institutions or Departments require any support or assistance, they can reach out to Ministry of Shipping or the IPA," he added.
The ministry also requested considering CargoX, a public block chain platform that provides the eBL solution and added that other solution providers of eBL like Tradelens, Wave, Bolero etc are explored for maritime EXIM cargo.The number of vessels handled by ports during 2019-20 was around 20,837, whereas during 2018-19, number of vessels handled was 20,853. The vessel traffic declined slightly by 0.08 per cent in comparison to last year.
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