India’s Foreign Trade i.e. Exports and Imports are regulated by Foreign Trade Policy notified by Central Government. Presently Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20 is effective from 1st April, 2015. As per FTD&R act, export is defined as an act of taking out of India any goods by land, sea or air and with proper transaction of money.
To start export business, the following steps may be followed:
1 – Establishing an Organisation
To start the export business, first a sole Proprietary concern/ Partnership firm/Company has to be set up as per procedure with an attractive name and logo.
2 – Opening a Bank Account
A current account with a Bank authorized to deal in Foreign Exchange should be opened.
3 – Obtaining Permanent Account Number (PAN)
It is necessary for every exporter and importer to obtain a PAN from the Income Tax Department. (To apply PAN Card Click Here)
4 – Obtaining Importer-Exporter Code (IEC) Number
An IEC is a 10 digit number which is mandatory for undertaking export/ import. Application for obtaining IEC Number can be submitted to Regional authority of DGFT in form ANF 2A along with the documents listed therein. Applicants can also apply for e-IEC on the DGFT website (http://dgft.gov.in/). Only one IEC can be obtained against a single PAN.
5 – Registration cum membership certificate (RCMC)
For availing authorization to import/ export or any other benefit or concession under FTP 2015-20, as also to avail the services/ guidance, exporters are required to obtain RCMC granted by the concerned Export Promotion Councils/ FIEO/Commodity Boards/ Authorities.
6 – Selection of product
All items are freely exportable except few items appearing in prohibited/ restricted list. After studying the trends of export of different products from India proper selection of the product(s) to be exported may be made.
7 – Selection of Markets
An overseas market should be selected after research covering market size, competition, quality requirements, payment terms etc. Exporters can also evaluate the markets based on the export benefits available for few countries under the FTP. Export promotion agencies, Indian Missions abroad, colleagues, friends, and relatives might be helpful in gathering information.
8 – Finding Buyers
Participation in trade fairs, buyer seller meets, exhibitions, B2B portals, web browsing are an effective tool to find buyers. EPC’s, Indian Missions abroad, overseas chambers of commerce can also be helpful. Creating multilingual Website with product catalogue, price, payment terms and other related information would also help.
9 – Sampling
Providing customized samples as per the demands of Foreign buyers help in getting export orders. As per FTP 2015-2020, exports of bonafide trade and technical samples of freely exportable items shall be allowed without any limit.
10 – Pricing/Costing
Product pricing is crucial in getting buyers’ attention and promoting sales in view of international competition. The price should be worked out taking into consideration all expenses from sampling to realization of export proceeds on the basis of terms of sale i.e. Free on Board (FOB), Cost, Insurance & Freight (CIF), Cost & Freight(C&F), etc. Goal of establishing export costing should be to sell maximum quantity at competitive price with maximum profit margin. Preparing an export costing sheet for every export product is advisable.
11 – Negotiation with Buyers
After determining the buyer’s interest in the product, future prospects and continuity in business, demand for giving reasonable allowance/discount in price may be considered.
12 – Covering Risks through ECGC
International trade involves payment risks due to buyer/ Country insolvency. These risks can be covered by an appropriate Policy from Export Credit Guarantee Corporation Ltd (ECGC). Where the buyer is placing order without making advance payment or opening letter of Credit, it is advisable to procure credit limit on the foreign buyer from ECGC to protect against risk of non-payment.(To know more about ECGC Click Here)
Processing an Export Order
1 – Confirmation of order
On receiving an export order, it should be examined carefully in respect of items, specification, payment conditions, packaging, delivery schedule, etc. and then the order should be confirmed. Accordingly, the exporter may enter into a formal contract with the overseas buyer.
2 – Procurement of Goods
After confirmation of the export order, immediate steps may be taken for procurement/manufacture of the goods meant for export. It should be remembered that the order has been obtained with much efforts and competition so the procurement should also be strictly as per buyer’s requirement.
3 – Quality Control
In today’s competitive era, it is important to be strict quality conscious about the export goods. Some products like food and agriculture, fishery, certain chemicals, etc. are subject to compulsory pre-shipment inspection. Foreign buyers may also lay down their own standards/specifications and insist upon inspection by their own nominated agencies. Maintaining high quality is necessary to sustain in export business.
4 – Finance
Exporters are eligible to obtain pre-shipment and post-shipment finance from Commercial Banks at concessional interest rates to complete the export transaction. Packing Credit advance in pre-shipment stage is granted to new exporters against lodgment of L/C or confirmed order for 180 days to meet working capital requirements for purchase of raw material/finished goods, labour expenses, packing, transporting, etc. Normally Banks give 75% to 90% advances of the value of the order keeping the balance as margin. Banks adjust the packing credit advance from the proceeds of export bills negotiated, purchased or discounted.
Post Shipment finance is given to exporters normally upto 90% of the Invoice value for normal transit period and in cases of usance export bills upto notional due date. The maximum period for post-shipment advances is 180 days from the date of shipment. Advances granted by Banks are adjusted by realization of the sale proceeds of the export bills. In case export bill becomes overdue Banks will charge commercial lending rate of interest.
5 – Labeling, Packaging, Packing and Marking
The export goods should be labeled, packaged and packed strictly as per the buyer’s specific instructions. Good packaging delivers and presents the goods in top condition and in attractive way. Similarly, good packing helps easy handling, maximum loading, reducing shipping costs and to ensuring safety and standard of the cargo. Marking such as address, package number, port and place of destination, weight, handling instructions, etc. provides identification and information of cargo packed.
6 – Insurance
Marine insurance policy covers risks of loss or damage to the goods during the while the goods are in transit. Generally in CIF contract the exporters arrange the insurance whereas for C&F and FOB contract the buyers obtain insurance policy.
7 – Delivery
It is important feature of export and the exporter must adhere the delivery schedule. Planning should be there to let nothing stand in the way of fast and efficient delivery.
8 – Customs Procedures
It is necessary to obtain PAN based Business Identification Number (BIN) from the Customs prior to filing of shipping bill for clearance of export good and open a current account in the designated bank for crediting of any drawback amount and the same has to be registered on the system.
In case of Non-EDI, the shipping bills or bills of export are required to be filled in the format as prescribed in the Shipping Bill and Bill of Export (Form) regulations, 1991. An exporter need to apply different forms of shipping bill/ bill of export for export of duty free goods, export of dutiable goods and export under drawback etc.
Under EDI System, declarations in prescribed format are to be filed through the Service Centers of Customs. A checklist is generated for verification of data by the exporter/CHA. After verification, the data is submitted to the System by the Service Center operator and the System generates a Shipping Bill Number, which is endorsed on the printed checklist and returned to the exporter/CHA. In most of the cases, a Shipping Bill is processed by the system on the basis of declarations made by the exporters without any human intervention. Where the Appraiser Dock (export) orders for samples to be drawn and tested, the Customs Officer may proceed to draw two samples from the consignment and enter the particulars thereof along with details of the testing agency in the ICES/E system.
Any correction/amendments in the check list generated after filing of declaration can be made at the service center, if the documents have not yet been submitted in the system and the shipping bill number has not been generated. In situations, where corrections are required to be made after the generation of the shipping bill number or after the goods have been brought into the Export Dock, amendments is carried out in the following manners.
1 – The goods have not yet been allowed “let export” amendments may be permitted by the Assistant Commissioner (Exports).
2 – Where the “Let Export” order has already been given, amendments may be permitted only by the Additional/Joint Commissioner, Custom House, in charge of export section.
In both the cases, after the permission for amendments has been granted, the Assistant Commissioner / Deputy Commissioner (Export) may approve the amendments on the system on behalf of the Additional /Joint Commissioner. Where the print out of the Shipping Bill has already been generated, the exporter may first surrender all copies of the shipping bill to the Dock Appraiser for cancellation before amendment is approved on the system.
9 – Customs House Agents
Exporters may avail services of Customs House Agents licensed by the Commissioner of Customs. They are professionals and facilitate work connected with clearance of cargo from Customs.
10 – Documentation
FTP 2015-2020 describe the following mandatory documents for import and export.
(Other documents like certificate of origin, inspection certificate etc may be required as per the case.)
11 – Submission of documents to Bank
After shipment, it is obligatory to present the documents to the Bank within 21 days for onward dispatch to the foreign Bank for arranging payment. Documents should be drawn under Collection/Purchase/Negotiation under L/C as the case may be, along with the following documents
12 – Realization of Export Proceeds
As per FTP 2015-2020, all export contracts and invoices shall be denominated either in freely convertible currency of Indian rupees, but export proceeds should be realized in freely convertible currency except for export to Iran.
Export proceeds should be realized in 9 months.
Prior to importing from India, every business must first obtain an Import Export Code (IEC) number from the regional joint DGFT. The IEC is a pan-based registration of traders with lifetime validity and is required for clearing customs, sending shipments, as well as for sending or receiving money in foreign currency.
The process to obtain the IEC registration takes about 10-15 days.
Once an IEC is allotted, businesses may import goods that are compliant with Section 11 of the Customs Act (1962), Foreign Trade (Development & Regulation) Act (1992), and the Foreign Trade Policy, 2015-20.
However, certain items – restricted, canalized, or prohibited, as declared and notified by the government – require additional permission and licenses from the DGFT and the federal government.
To determine whether a license is needed to import a particular commercial product or service, an importer must first classify the item by identifying its Indian Trading Clarification based on a Harmonized System of Coding or ITC (HS) classification.
ITC (HS) is India’s chief method of classifying items for trade and import-export operations. The ITC-HS code, issued by the DGFT, is an 8-digit alphanumeric code representing a certain class or category of goods, which allows the importer to follow regulations concerned with those goods.
An import license may be either a general license or specific license. Under a general license, goods can be imported from any country, whereas a specific or individual license authorizes import only from specific countries.
Import licenses are used in import clearance, renewable, and typically valid for 24 months for capital goods or 18 months for raw materials components, consumables, and spare parts.
After obtaining import licenses, importers are required to furnish import declaration in the prescribed Bill of Entry along with permanent account number (PAN) based Business Identification Number (BIN), as per Section 46 of the Customs Act (1962).
A Bill of Entry gives information on the exact nature, precise quantity, and value of goods that have landed or entered inwards in the country.
If the goods are cleared through the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system, no formal Bill of Entry is filed as it is generated in the computer system. However, the importer must file a cargo declaration after prescribing particulars required for processing of the entry for customs clearance.
If the Bill of Entry is filed without using the EDI system, the importer is required to submit supporting documents that include certificate of origin, certificate of inspection, bill of exchange, commercial invoice cum packing list, among others.
Once the goods are shipped, the customs officials examine and assess the information furnished in the bill of entry and match it with the imported items. If there are no irregularities, the officials issue a ‘pass out order’ that allows the imported goods to be replaced from the customs.
India levies basic customs duty on imported goods, as specified in the first schedule of the Customs tariff Act, 1975, along with goods-specific duties such as anti-dumping duty, safeguard duty, and social welfare surcharge.
In addition to these, the government levies an integrated goods and services tax (IGST) under the new GST system. The IGST rates depend on the classification of imported goods as specified in Schedules notified under Section 5 of the IGST Act (2017).