India’s Foreign Trade i.e. Exports and Imports are regulated by Foreign Trade Policy notified by Central Government in the exercise of powers conferred by Section 5 of Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act 1992. 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 the proper transaction of money.
Export in itself is a very wide concept and a lot of preparations is required by an exporter before starting an export business. To start an 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.
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 the Regional Authority of DGFT with 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 is 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.
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.
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. The goal of establishing export costing should be to sell maximum quantity at a competitive price with a 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 an order without making an advance payment or opening letter of Credit, it is advisable to procure credit limit on the foreign buyer from ECGC to protect against the risk of non-payment.
Processing an Export Order
- 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.
- 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.
iii. 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.
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 the 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, labor 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 up to 90% of the Invoice value for normal transit period and in cases of usance export bills up to 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 the realization of the sale proceeds of the export bills. In case export bill becomes overdue Banks will charge commercial lending rate of interest.
- 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 an 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.
The 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 an insurance policy.
It is an 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.
viii. Customs Procedures
It is necessary to obtain PAN based Business Identification Number (BIN) from the Customs prior to the 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 the 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 needs 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 checklist generated after the filing of declaration can be made at the service center if the documents have not yet been submitted to 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 are carried out in the following manners.
- The goods have not yet been allowed “let export” amendments may be permitted by the Assistant Commissioner (Exports).
- Where the “Let Export” order has already been given, amendments may be permitted only by the Additional/Joint Commissioner, Custom House, in charge of the 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 the amendment is approved on the system.
- 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 a clearance of cargo from Customs.
FTP 2015-2020 describe the following mandatory documents for import and export.
- Bill of Lading/ Airway bill
- Commercial invoice cum packing list
- shipping bill/ bill of export/ bill of entry (for imports)
(Other documents like certificate of origin, inspection certificate etc may be required as per the case.)
- 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
– Bill of Exchange
– Letter of Credit (if shipment is under L/C)
– Packing List
– Airway Bill/Bill of Lading
– Declaration under Foreign Exchange
– Certificate of Origin/GSP
– Inspection Certificate, wherever necessary
– Any other document as required in the L/C or by the buyer or statutorily.
xii. 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.