As Chinese websites gain popularity in India, witnessing thousands of orders each day, custom officials in India learnt that Chinese sellers were shipping their goods to India by courier calling them samples to evade duty. Just as it began to take cognizance of the issue, they have now noticed that these Chinese websites have switched to undervaluing their goods on the invoices, according to an Economic Times report.
These pertain to certain Chinese ecommerce sites which sell goods to Indian buyers and then ship the items through courier. The courier companies have to file a bill named Courier Bill of Entry, commonly known as CBE-13 and clear it through customs after depositing the duty, which is now collected as GST. While this should have satisfied the authorities that certain revenue losses have been plugged, it has come to light that sellers are cleverly invoicing at only 50% of the price that the same product is offered on ecommerce platforms.
The entities immediately affected by these practices are the local retailers who feel there is no level playing field and have been raising their concerns with the different agencies of the government.
The sites involved are Club Factory, Shein and Ali Express. The last time round when a similar issue of the sellers on their site indulging in unlawful practices was brought to the notice of Ali Express, they said they have a strict policy of not permitting any seller on their platform to circumvent laws of any country where they operate. It is learnt they did take action against the offending sellers then. This time it remains to be seen if they follow through with similar punitive action. The other two platforms do not seem to be overly concerned by the unscrupulous trade practices indulged in by the sellers on their sites.
Since it is the Foreign Post Offices that clear these consignments, instructions have been sent to these post offices to keep a close eye on such goods and to report anomalies.