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India launches digital platform to issue certificates of origin

The Minister of Commerce and Industry recently launched a common digital platform for the issuance of electronic certificates of origin (CoO) in New Delhi.

The platform will be a single access point for all exporters, free trade agreements (FTAs), preferential trade agreements (PTAs), and agencies concerned.

The certificate of origin will be issued electronically if agreed to by the partner countries. Authorities of partner countries will be able to verify the authenticity of certificates from the website.

Also, the platform provides administrative access to the Department of Commerce for reporting and monitoring purposes.

Key features of the new platform:

  • The issuance process is electronic, paperless, and transparent
  • It tracks FTA utilisation at the product level, country level, etc. in real-time
  • CoO is electronically issued as opposed to the existing system’s physical certificates
  • It enables the electronic exchange of CoOs with partner countries
  • It reduces transaction costs and time for exporters

Exporters may register on this platform and apply for CoOs to any of the designated departments. The Export Inspection Council (EIC) and its agencies are already on board, an official press release said. Other agencies are in the process of registering on the platform. The on-boarding process is only for the purposes of payment integration so that the application fees may flow to the respective agencies.

The platform will be made live for FTAs in a phased manner as per the concurrence of the concerned partner countries. Various territorial divisions have already informed their partner countries. The government is scheduled to start with the India-Chile PTA.

Further, once the partner countries agree to an electronic data exchange, the CoOs will be electronically sent to the Customs of the partner countries. After this, a physical CoO copy will not be required, saving transaction costs and time for Indian exporters.

India has 15 FTAs/PTAs with various partner countries. Under which, Indian exporters get reduced import tariffs in the destination country. For this, the exporters must provide a preferential CoO.

About 700,000 certificates are issued annually by designated agencies. These verticals certify that exported goods are made in India. The certificates are issued by the selected agencies in the country after a vetting process.

Designated agencies for CoO issuance include the EIC, Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), and the Textile Committee and Tobacco Board.

At present, the preferential certificate of origin is issued from the notified agencies around the country through manual processes.

The platform has been designed and developed by DGFT and the Regional and Multilateral Trade Relations (RMTR) Division, Department of Commerce, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The Commerce Minister also launched a steel import monitoring system (SIMS), which he said was not a licensing system but a tool to gather information about steel imports.

It was launched because the government received complaints from officials that collecting data on steel imports is quite difficult. Information could include what grade of steel is being imported, how much is being imported, from where, and what the domestic market potential is.

Through the SIMS mechanism, importers of steel will have to register their import between 60 days and 15 days before it arrives in the country.

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