Customs organizations all over the world are tasked with the twin challenges of securing the borders from unlawful trade and at the same time facilitating the legitimate trade. Trade security and facilitation is one of the key determinants for the economic development of the countries.
To make life easier for millions of importers, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has launched ‘SWIFT’, an initiative to speed up clearances for consignments and improve ‘ease of doing business.’ Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) provides a single-point interface for clearance and is expected to reduce documentation and costs. It is expected to cover and benefit over 97 per cent of India’s imports. Importers will not need to run around to get approvals from multiple government agencies for their consignments. This is an another step towards enhancing Trade Facilitation.
Accredited Economic Operator Program is an another feather for CBEC. Over the years, AEO has become a flagship programme for WCO Members as it offers an opportunity for Customs to share its responsibilities with the businesses, while at the same time rewarding them with a number of additional benefits. In the light of these international developments, as well as in view of the focus of the Government of India on “Ease of Doing Business”, it has become imperative to develop a comprehensive unified trade facilitation programme by incorporating the existing ACP scheme and ongoing AEO programme into a revised AEO programme providing additional facilities to the legitimate trade who have demonstrated strong internal control system and willingness to comply with the laws administered by the Central Board of Excise and Customs. An entity with an AEO status can, therefore, be considered a 'secure' trader and a reliable trading partner.
The Indian Customs Electronic Commerce/Electronic Data interchange (EC/EDI) Gateway, ICEGATE is a portal that provides e-filing services to the trade and cargo carriers and other clients of Customs Department (collectively called Trading Partner). ICEGATE is an infrastructure project that fulfils the department's EC/EDI and data communication requirements. Through this facility the department offers a host of services, including electronic filing of the Bill of Entry (import goods declaration), Shipping Bills (export goods declaration) and related electronic messages between Customs and the Trading Partners using communication facilities (E-mail, Web-upload & FTP) using the communication protocols commonly used on the internet.