In today’s sophisticated world market, a product can move with any measure of success only if it is competitive enough in price and quality. Our export can be sustained and improved only be raising the quality of our product as it would be very difficult to reduce the price in our present day high-cost economy, with a view to achieve this objective of raising the quality of our export products, the Government of India enacted the legislation entitled “The Export (Quality Control and Inspection) Act” in the year 1963, and the Export Inspection Council was also set up with effect from 1st January, 1964. The main function of the Export Inspection Council is to advise the government with regard to measures to be taken for quality control and pre-shipment inspection of exportable commodities.
No Consignment of any notified commodity can be exported unless it is accompanied by a certificate issued by a recognized inspection agency or the article carries a recognized mark indicting that it conforms to the standard specifications.
A number of existing agencies, both government as well as private have been recognized under the Act for carrying out pr-shipment inspection of various goods. To supplement the work of these agencies, the government also established five Export Inspection Agencies, one each at Bombay, Calcutta, Cochin, Madras and Delhi in 1966 exclusively for export inspection. These agencies work under the administrative and technical control of the Export Inspection Council.
Striking progress has been made in the field of compulsory pre-shipment inspection as about 85 per cent of exports from India have been covered under one or the other system of quality control. A large number of engineering items have been covered under compulsory pre-shipment inspection scheme. However, items like diesel engines, bicycles, small tools and hand tools, automobile spares, power driven pumps, sewing machines and electric fans known as panel items- are covered under a system of in-process quality control. In the case of these items, only manufacturing units exercising adequate in-process quality control and allowed to export, and the adequacy of otherwise is adjudged by export panels consisting of representatives of the Export Inspection Council, Indian Standards Institution, Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals, State Departments of Industries and representatives from the trade and industry in large as well as small scale sectors.
Similar arrangements for pre-shipment inspection, grading and marking of agricultural goods and mill-made cotton textiles and yarn for export have been made under the Agricultural Produce (Grading & Marking) Act, 1925 and the Textiles Committee Act, 1996 respectively. Under the legislation, it is obligatory for the exporter to fulfill the conditions relating to pre-shipment inspection of export goods. Procedure and the details of pre-shipment inspection very according to the nature of export commodity, the basic procedure is outlined below:
As soon as the goods are ready, the exporter should make out an application in the prescribed from giving details of the shipment to the inspection agency. Along with the application he should furnish the following documents.
- Commercial invoice giving evidence of the F.O.B value of export consignment.
- A crossed cheque/demand draft/I.P.O/ for the amount of inspection fee.
- A copy of the export contract/order giving details of importers’ specifications and /or a sample approved by the importer.
The inspection agency will depute an Inspector to conduct the pre-shipment inspections at the exporter’s factory or were house. After the inspection is complete, and the consignment is passed, a certificate of inspection will be issued to the exporter. This certificate has to be presented by the exporter to the Export Department of the Custom House at the time of seeking customs clearance of export cargo.
Since independence, there has been a conscious effort to improve the quality of our agriculture and industrial production in the country. This has, however, now assumed greater importance because of:
- Adverse balance of payments position; and
- Inadequate foreign aid.
Moreover, we should not expect our customers abroad to buy from us goods which are of substandard quality and are relatively expensive. We should undertake to orient our production pattern so as to be able to supply goods which may exactly met the requirements of foreign buyers. It is not only the quality of the products that is important but the way they are packed. Packaging is of paramount importance in consumer goods items. Packaging and display, together with reliability of quality and continuity of supply, determine to a large extent the continued acceptability of the Indian products abroad.