Disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in high shipping freight rates and container shortage globally, which has been raised repeatedly by exporters in India.
In stakeholder consultations by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), it has been brought out that the problem could be eased by creating policy incentives that discourage the export of empty containers.
As per the present structure, empty containers beyond six months attract an import duty as a deemed import.
While the policy is designed to discourage the long dwell time of containers and to promote faster turnaround, it has been reported that this sometimes creates a perverse incentive among shipping lines to export empty containers to evade duty payment on containers that are lying empty.
Working on one of the action tracks identified to ease the problem, the government has issued guidance to field offices to extend this period by three months as a temporary measure to improve containers available.
“This step is expected to reduce the export of the empty containers from the country on ground of imposition of import duty, thus increasing the availability of containers for the trade,” the official statement said.