To carry out imports, importers should be registered in the Directorate General of External Trade
, which sets up the Export and Import Policy (the last "Exim Policy" sets the rules for the period 1997-2002). There are still some non-tarrif barriers, especially a system of license concerning 40% of the imports, and covering all customs rules. There are two lists: the negative list (for about 3000 items including textiles) for which the licensing may be from a simple licensing to a complete prohibition of the item (for example second hand machines) and a second list, the "Open General Licence" concerning the rest of the products, that are not subject to a license. Furthermore, 44 products, (such as loose food-processing products) can be imported only by State monopolies and are subject to a preliminary licensing of the government (alcohol, for instance).
Another system of license was also set up to develop exports: the "Special Import License" (SIL), granted to exporters. These exporters are classified into 4 categories: Export House, Trading House, Star Trading House, Great Star Trading House, depending on their turnover from their exports. They are authorised to obtain special Import licenses that are proportional to their export turnover .
It is difficult nowadays to export textile and clothes and also a certain number of consumer goods (such as farm products for instance) to India because of the numerous administrative constraints, despite several liberalisations. Furthermore, despite the absence of Import quotas, some products, normally subject to license, are not authorised to enter the country when the authorities feel that the quantities bought were too huge.
Finally, there are certain special zones (Free Trade zones, Export Processing Zones, Electronic Technology Area and Jewellery Areas). Within these zones, companies benefit from exemptions of customs duty and local taxes under certain conditions (in proportion to the percentage of their exports).
It may however be pointed out that the big commercial "blocks" such as the European Union and the USA have begun some bilateral negotiations to soften these conditions. India therefore agreed to reduce the number of products of the negative list and according to the origin of products, it is more or less easy to obtain this license.
The central organisation in the Indian system of normalisation is the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)
, a private and non-profit body, that issues the license to use the BIS mark (Certification Mark) on the products. It ensures compliance of the conditions of normalisation of the products. The standards are rather similar to the American and English ones. In case of absence of an Indian standard, American or English standards are used.