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Covid-19: India asks FTA partners to temporarily allow imports without certificate of origin

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New Delhi: India has asked the countries, with which it has free trade agreements (FTAs), to allow imports of goods without certificate of origin for the time being as the domestic authorities are currently not issuing the document on account of lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. The government has allowed issuing certificates of origin-retrospectively to eligible exports under various India’s trade agreements with other countries as offices temporarily closed and unable to issue the certificate of origin.

Certificate of origin is an instrument which establishes evidence o­n origin of goods imported into any country. These certificates are essential for exporters to prove where their goods come from and therefore stake their claim to whatever benefits goods of Indian origin may be eligible for in the country of exports. Exporters have to submit a certificate of origin at the landing port of the importing country.

“India would also stand ready to honour its preferential trade agreement imports subject to the respective governments also making a formal request or putting up a notice in this regard,” the directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) said in a circular. The relaxation comes in the wake of a lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak. “In view of these exceptional circumstances, the certificates would be issued retrospectively by the concerned Indian agencies after they open their offices,” it said in the circular.

India has such trade agreements with ASEAN, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Malaysia, among others. The directorate said that on account of the lockdown/curfew in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian agencies authorised to issue the certificate of origin under India’s free trade agreements (FTAs), comprehensive economic cooperation agreements (CECA), comprehensive economic partnership agreements (CEPA) and preferential trade agreements (PTAs) are temporarily closed and unable to issue the certificate of origin.

In the interim period, the customs authorities and other competent authorities in the trading partners with whom India has a trade agreement, may kindly allow the eligible imports under preferences on a retrospective basis subject to the subsequent production of the certificates of origin by the Indian exporters. Exports from India touched $292.9 billion in the 11 months to February 2020, while imports were $436.03 billion.


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