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Easy documentation, increasing awareness, role of post offices to help boost e-commerce exports: Report

Steps such as increasing awareness, easier documentation, simplified customs processes and standard operating practice for product returns would help in promoting the country’s exports through e-commerce medium, according to a report by industry body FISME. The other measures which would help the sector include lowering charges for Export Data Processing and Monitoring System (EDPMS); easier reconciliation of remittances for export receipts from abroad through a reassessment of the current 25 per cent variation between exports and payments; and raising the 9-month limit on receiving payments for exports for e-commerce.

Over 90 per cent of e-commerce exporters in India are MSMEs (most of them micro and small enterprises) and, therefore, a strategy for e-commerce exports must focus on MSMEs spread across the nation to sell their products to global markets, FISME said.

The FISME and IKDHVAJ Advisers LLP report has flagged a number of issues that need to be looked upon to promote exports through e-commerce medium.

At present, product returns are in general treated as imports (primarily because of problems in identifying the returned product as the originally exported product) and thus subject to full import duties, the report said, adding in many cases, the logistics costs of bringing returns back to India are very high and the products are either sold at a huge discount in the country exported to or discarded.

The process of e-commerce exports through courier services below a particular threshold also results in an inability to claim benefits for exports available to offline exports, it said.

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It added that logistics issues related to courier/customs procedures, the limited number of foreign post offices, and the difficulty in tracking the last mile delivery are also problems more specific to e-commerce exports. The report has suggested a tripartite awareness raising campaign involving industry and SME associations such as FISME, government and platform owners to facilitate information on end-to-end e-commerce export process.

It asked for a green channel for e-commerce exports with easier documentation and customs process simplification for timely delivery; and special facilitative mechanisms on cross-border payments especially with respect to closure procedure at banks.

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