Indian Customs EDI System: An Era of Paperless Trade

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Indian Customs EDI System (ICES) initiated a new era in the country. An era of :   Paperless Trade. Trade facilitation rather then control.

An era in which Indian trading community can exchange documents electronically with Customs and other Government Agencies. This had been made possible by the joint design, development and implementation of ICES by the officers of Central Board of Excise and Customs and National Informatics Centre.

Project History
The Customs Computerization project is the outcome of a systems study conducted by National Informatics Centre and Central Board of Excise and Customs in December, 1992 at number of Customs Houses throughout the country. A more detailed requirements study at the Delhi Custom House in April, 1994 formed the basis for the software requirements of ICES. The pilot project was launched in the year 1994-95 at Delhi Customs House which included Electronic Data Interchange(EDI) as a key element for connecting all the players involved in international trade with the Customs House electronically.After the successful implementation at Delhi Custom House, the Customs decided to extend theservice to other customs houses. ICES was made operational for exports processing at Inland Container Depot, Tughlaqabad in August, 1997; Sahar Air Customs, Mumbai in November, 1997; Jawahar Lal Nehru Port Trust, New Mumbai in November, 1997; Chennai Air Customs in December, 1997; Bangalore Air Customs in Feburary, 1998; and Container Freight Station, Patparganj in March, 1998. Right now, the system is operational at 23 sites throughout the country. More modules like Transshipment, Warehouse, Bonds etc were designed and implemented in steps.

The main objectives set for Indian Customs EDI System by the Customs were: Respond more quickly to the needs of the trade Computerization of customs related functions including import/export, general manifest control, exbond clearance of warehoused goods, goods imported against export promotion schemes, monitoring of export promotion schemes. Reduce interaction of the trade with Government agencies Provide retrieval of information from other custom locations to have uniformity in assessment and valuation Provide management information system for policy making and its effective revenue and pendency monitoring and

Provide quick and correct information on import/export statistics to Director General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics The guiding principles for the officials of Customs and National Informatics Centre while designing the ICES system were: Facilitation: While ensuring proper enforcement of Customs laws and regulations, Customs Administration should strive to improve facilitation of Customs clearance procedures. Accountability: Customs Administration should be accountable for their actions through a transparent and easily accessible process of Administration and/or judicial review. Consistency : Customs laws, regulations, administrative guidelines and procedures should be applied in a uniform manner. Transparency: Customs laws, regulations, administrative guidelines and procedures should be publicly available in a prompt and easily accessible manner. Simplification: Customs laws, regulations, administrative guidelines and procedures should be simplified to the extent possible so that Customs clearance can proceed without undue burden.

The objective was to roll out systems and processes that improve the way the business is conducted. ICES system is not only a technology solution but it transformed the way business was done. ICES comprises of two main sub systems namely, India Customs EDI system/Imports (ICES/I) and Indian Customs EDI System/Export (ICES/E). ICES/I for processing of Bill of Entry; and ICES/E for processing of Shipping Bills. The Exporters, Importers and Custom House Agents (CHAs) transmit Bills of Entry, Shipping Bills and other related documents such as Invoice, Packing List over dial-up links to...
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