Govt to Collect Online Shipment Data to Offer Incentives to Exporters
Move’s being introduced a year after govt provided export incentives in Foreign Trade Policy of 2015-20
AJAY SAHAI Director General, FIEO Govt can get data only if exporters apply for benefits under MEIS. But at present, the benefit is much less than the cost. We need to devise a different procedure to calculate ecommerce shipments as normal commercial ones and not as samples
New Delhi: After putting in place a definition for ‘marketplace,’ the government now plans to tap data on overseas online sales as part of efforts to boost outbound shipments through ecommerce platforms and channel benefits to these dedicated exporters.
So far there have been various studies on imports through ecommerce platforms and none on exports. A study by PayPal pegged India’s spending on shopping online from other countries at .₹ 54,700 crore in 2015, which is likely to grow by 78.5% in 2016.
“The software for ecommerce exports is ready…we hope to capture some data through this to give benefits to small exporters,” said an official aware of the development.
The need for such a system is pressing. The value of items shipped through couriers is often not captured in export data because they are categorised as samples or gifts.
Exporters call them samples because under the normal export route, they would have to file shipping bills and are subject to checks by custom officials, which is cumbersome, especially for small exporters with low-value shipments. “The software will do away with the problem. We might even give duty drawbacks for ecommerce exports,” the official said.
To give benefits to small exporters, the Director General of Foreign Trade has defined “ecommerce” as the buying and selling of goods and services, including digital products, conducted over digital and electronic networks.
These steps are being introduced a year after the government provided export incentives to the shipment of goods through couriers or foreign post offices using ecommerce in the Foreign Trade Policy of 2015-20.
At present, exports that can avail of these sops are capped at .₹ 25,000 per consignment, a value considered small for such purchases. Moreover, only six product categories — handicrafts, handlooms, toys, customised fashion garments, books and leather footwear — are entitled to these incentives under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS). “The incentive scheme has been a non-starter and we have made a presentation to the government that it needs to be simplified,” said Vijay Kumar, chief operating officer of the Express Industry Council of India.
Pointing out the likely problems in the implementation of the data collection system, Ajay Sahai, director general of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations, said: “The government can get data only if exporters apply for benefits under the MEIS. But at present, the benefit is much less than the cost. We need to devise a different procedure to calculate ecommerce shipments as normal commercial ones and not as samples,” he said. The FIEO has written to the commerce ministry to exempt exports through the ecommerce route from VAT, excise and service tax on goods and from physical examination by the customs department.