Precautions to be taken at the time of establishing Letter of Credit

Letter of credit offers almost complete protection to the seller but the buyer is put to many disadvantages and has to make payments against documents only. Before agreeing to open a letter of credit in favour of the seller, the opener must be satisfied with the creditworthiness and general reputation of the seller. Entire success of an L/C transaction depends on proper conduct of the seller.
Confidential report on the seller must be obtained at the time of first transaction with him.
Letter of credit also does not offer any protection for the quality/quantity of goods supplied under the L/C. It would, therefore be necessary to know the nature of goods and specify submission of quality reports/inspection reports from an independent agency to ensure receipt of goods of proper quality. This is particularly important in case of import of chemicals and such other goods. The opener has to submit an L/C application to the opening bank. The instructions contained in the L/C application is the mandate for the issuing bank and letter of credit will be issued in accordance with this application. It is, therefore, necessary that complete and precise information must be given in the L/C application form specifying therein the description, unit rate and quantity of the goods covered under L/C and details of documents required in absolute clear and unambiguous terms. The reference to underlying sale contract must be avoided as far as possible. The L/C application must nevertheless contain all the required/information based on which L/C could be opened by the bank. After the L/C has been issued by the bank, a copy thereof must be obtained immediately. The L/C must be scrutinized to ensure that it has been properly issued and is in conformity with L/C application. Discrepancy, if any, must be brought to the notice of opening bank immediately.
Import contact may be concluded either in terms of INR or in foreign currency. Where the contracts are in INR, the related documents are also prepared in INR and no conversion is involved. However, where the bill is drawn in foreign currency, the payment is made in Indian rupees equivalent to the foreign currency. The equivalent rupee value is arrived at by applying suitable exchange rate. These rates are applied by banks to standardise the foreign exchange-rupee conversion process.

When the price of foreign currency is quoted in terms of home or local currency it is called direct quotation basis. This has been in application since 02.08.1993. However, there is a difference between inter-bank exchange rates and merchant rates.
Merchant rates are the exchange rates applied by the bankers for transaction with their customers for various purposes, including imports and exports. These rates are calculated by the banks as per the guidelines issued by the Foreign Exchange Dealers Association of India (FEDAI). Inter-bank rates are the rate for transactions amongst the authorised dealers in foreign exchange and depend on the market conditions.
Since exchange rates are volatile, documents delivered by the bank at the time of a favourable exchange rate will enable the Indian purchaser to pay less of Indian rupees. Forex rates are always quoted as two way price i.e. at a rate at which the bank is willing to sell foreign currency(buying rate) and at a rate at which the bank is willing to buy foreign currency(selling rate). There is always some difference in buying and selling rates.
However, the maximum spread available to bank is restricted in terms of celling imposed by RBI. All exchange rates by authorised dealers are quoted in terms of their capacity as buyer or seller.