India, US authorities working to ‘quickly conclude’ pact for faster customs clearances

New Delhi: India and the US are working to ‘quickly conclude’ the mutual recognition agreement (MRA) for authorised economic operators of both countries to expedite customs clearances, CBIC Chief Vivek Johri said on Friday.

The two countries in September 2021 entered into an MRA to recognise the AEOs of both countries. The AEO programme enables Customs administration to identify safe and compliant exporters and importers and to provide them with better facilitation.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a CII event, Johri said the customs authorities of India and the US had discussions to recognise the AEOs of both countries and give reciprocal benefits.

As part of the agreement, customs authorities of one country visit the other and evaluate their AEO programme and make sure that the features that are there for accrediting an entity as an AEO are strong enough to make the entity risk-free.

“That evaluation has already been done, and the language and the text of the agreement have also been worked out. Now it is going through vetting so we will try and conclude it quickly,” Johri said.  Asked by when the AEO MRA would be implemented, Johri said there is no fixed timeframe for it.

“There is a process that we have to go through and it goes to Cabinet for approval because it’s an international agreement. So we are going through the process,” said the chief of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).

In 2022-23, the US was India’s biggest trading partner and bilateral trade between the two countries stood at USD 128.8 billion.

India’s exports to the US were USD 78.54 billion, while imports were USD 50.24 in 2022-23. India already has implemented similar AEO MRA agreements with other countries, like Korea

“We are talking to the US and some other countries also,” Johri added