The Indian Government has announced a change to the way that customs duties are to be levied on equipment being brought in and out of the country for motorsports events.
The change comes after Indian Grand Prix
promoters Jaypee Sports ended up having to pay out for levies in previous years, after the government had refused to differentiate between team cars and equipment being brought into the country for the event from any other general goods and merchandise being imported for sale.
On Wednesday, India's Directorate General of Foreign Trade announced that in future the promoter would be able to execute a secured bond with the Customs authorities guaranteeing that all the equipment left the country within 30 days of arrival. This would bypass the standard import costs as long as the cars and equipment are used only within specified enclosed venues with the necessary safety precautions in place.
That brings India more closely into line with other countries around the world holding Grand Prix events, where incoming equipment is usually gathered in a specified customs area at the airport, taken direct to the track for the race, and then immediately returned to the airport for departure after the event concludes.
Previously, India's authorities had refused to extend this facility to F1 and other motorsports events, refusing to consider the Grand Prix as a sport let alone as an event of 'national importance.'
Whether the change will be sufficient to secure the long-term future of F1 in India is uncertain. After three GPs since 2011, the race is missing off the 2014 calendar although the organisers still hope that the event will return to the Buddh International Circuit
in Greater Noida near New Delhi in 2015.
The World Superbike championship had also been affected by the customs issue, and WSBK has also left India off its itinerary this year.
While the changes to the customs rules will help those championships which make only one appearance in the country, it does little to help competitors needing to import equipment allowing them to take part in national events such as the Indian Rally Championship which does allows the participation of foreign cars but which takes place over a period of longer than a single month.