In India, China shipments held up as New Delhi takes steps to block Chinese goods

A mobile crane prepares to stack a container at a port in the southern Indian city of Chennai. Photo: Reuters

Customs officials at Chennai, one of India’s biggest ports, have held shipments originating from China for extra checks, according to sources, amid a backlash over a border clash in which 20 Indian soldiers died.

The increased scrutiny on shipments from China at Chennai Port, which handles various cargo including cars, components, fertilisers and petroleum products, could disrupt supply chains.

While there is no official order from the government yet, customs officers in the city have told importers to not allow goods coming from China to leave the port without being inspected, three sources said.

Shipments are typically only subjected to random checks and not mandatory screening.

An official at India’s finance ministry, which oversees the customs department, declined to comment. It was not immediately clear at which other ports in the country shipments were being held.

A consignment of parts being shipped by US carmaker Ford Motor Company from China to a plant in India has been held at Chennai port for further checks, one of the sources said.

A Ford India spokesman said a consignment of parts required for manufacturing and export of products is on hold in Chennai.

“We are working with the authorities and supporting them with necessary documents and details requested by them,” the spokesman said.

Pharmaceutical consignments are also stuck at Chennai and other ports and at an airport, and drug companies have been told their shipments will be released after rigorous scrutiny of each container, down to every drum, according to a senior industry executive.
“This testing process would take at least a week to complete and will cause disruption,” the executive said.
The Chennai Customs Brokers’ Association, a trade body for logistics companies, told its members on Tuesday to expect some delays as it had received an internal instruction from the customs department to hold all consignments which have originated from China.
“An official trade notice/circular [is] still awaited from customs,” the association said in its notice.

Meanwhile, India has amended rules for purchases by government departments, making it mandatory for suppliers to mention the country of origin in a move to push for local products and keep out Chinese manufacturers.

New sellers on the Government e-Marketplace, an Amazon-like online procurement platform, will have to register the origin of their products while those already available must meet the new requirement or risk being removed, according to a government statement on Tuesday.
The platform will allow buyers to filter products based on the country of origin and select those with a high percentage of local content. Buyers can choose to buy only those products that meet the minimum 50 per cent local content criteria.
The push for products made in India comes amid rising public clamour for a boycott of Chinese goods as the two nations are engaged in their deadliest border conflict in four decades.

The platform, which serves India’s government departments, recorded sales worth 400 billion rupees (US$5.3 billion) in the last financial year and has 324,000 vendors.

Earlier this month, India also modified public procurement rules to give maximum preference to companies whose goods and services have 50 per cent or more local content, with an aim to promote Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” programme in response to calls to make the country self-reliant.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Chinese goods delayed at port in wake of deadly clashes between troops

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