TRADE FACILITATION

Trade facilitation focuses on removing barriers to the international movement of goods and cargo to lower trade costs, at and around the border and along the supply chain, to make countries more competitive in regional and global markets. In the SASEC subregion, bottlenecks in trade facilitation are the leading non-tariff barriers that constrain intraregional trade. SASEC trade facilitation initiatives aim to make cross-border trade and transport in the subregion faster, cheaper, and more predictable, while maintaining the security of the supply chain and ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of all involved players.

PUBLICATIONS

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Facilitate Trade for Development: Aid for Trade

The Aid for Trade program has been providing support to developing economies in tackling obstacles to growth through better facilitation of trade in the last 10 years. Since its launch in 2006, a total of $308 billion has been disbursed to finance aid-for-trade programs and projects, which are working to reduce trade and transport costs, promote trade expansion, and achieve economic and social objectives. As high trade costs persist in keeping developing countries from fully exploiting their trade and development potential, the Aid for Trade program remains highly relevant, and will help developing economies, including landlocked and small and vulnerable economies, achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Source: William Hynes and Frans Lammersen

Connecting Asia: Infrastructure for Integrating South and Southeast Asia

This book contains background papers prepared for the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank Institute joint study, 'Connecting South Asia and Southeast Asia.' It emphasizes the potential contribution to growth that greater connectivity—through better transport and energy infrastructure and improved soft infrastructure, including trade facilitation—between South Asia and Southeast Asia can foster. With benefits including greater participation in global supply chains for South Asia; lower trade costs; and increase in inter- and intraregional trade, the book underscores that, at a juncture where closer regional integration can secure sustainable and inclusive growth for economies in the two regions, specific policies should be examined and considered to enable both regions to maximize gains from greater integration.

Source: Michael G. Plummer, Peter J. Morgan, Ganeshan Wignaraja, eds.

Connecting South Asia and South East Asia

This book analyzes how closer regional connectivity and economic integration between South Asia and Southeast Asia can benefit both subregions. It aims to build a broad case for increased connectivity between the two regions and identify specific projects that have high potential to fulfill this objective. This joint study focuses on both “hard” infrastructure and associated “soft” infrastructure, including tariffs and non-tariff barriers, trade and transport facilitation, energy trading, and infrastructure investment and financing. It further provides a canvas for considering strategic cross-border infrastructure investments and policy reforms.

Source: Asian Development Bank Institute and Asian Development Bank

WORKING PAPER

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Connecting Bangladesh: Economic Corridor Network

Economic corridors anchored on transport connectivity could significantly boost Bangladesh's economic growth. This paper presents a new set of corridors for Bangladesh – a nine-corridor comprehensive integrated multimodal economic corridor network that will enhance Bangladesh’s role as land bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia, and between South Asia and northern Asia. These proposed corridors are designed to sustain robust economic growth over the long term by improving regional connectivity, transit, and integration, alongside trade facilitation measures.

Source: Mohuiddin Alamgir

CPD Working Paper 110 – Trade and Transport Facilitation in Bangladesh: An Audit of the State of Play

This publication provides a detailed picture of the status of specific measures for trade and transport facilitation in Bangladesh. It identifies measures already adopted, including strengthening of trade-related institutions, improvements in Customs processes and procedures, and reduction of non-trade barriers, highlighting areas for improvement and identifying existing gaps, to allow for proposals to meet these gaps. The audit undertaken aims to support policy-makers in Bangladesh in mobilizing the financial resources required to build a modern and efficient trade and transport facilitation system.

Source: Mustafizur Rahman, Khaleda Akhter and Naimul Gani Saif

Impact of Trade Facilitation on Foreign Direct Investment

This United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Trade and Investment Working Paper attempts to quantify the potential impact of trade facilitation on foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. The study uses bilateral FDI data from 2006 onward from both developing and developed countries, including South-South FDI flows, wherein contiguity (common border between source and host country) and geographic distance are found to be much more important factors. In applying an augmented FDI model framework to determine the effect of comprehensive international trade costs, the results show that both non-tariff and tariff costs are important determinants of FDI inflows.

Source: Yann Duval and Chorthip Utoktham

REPORTS

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Development of East Coast Economic Corridor and Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor

The East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC)—India’s first coastal corridor—is an integrated economic development initiative that is expected to help pursue industrialization and integrate domestic companies into the global value chains of Southeast Asia and East Asia. Its development will start with Vizag–Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC), which covers about 800 kilometers and includes several ports and major industrial centers. This paper discusses strategies to consider when trying to improve shipping and air connectivity in the ECEC and Vizag–Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC). It stresses the importance of infrastructure development and regulatory reforms that facilitate increased connectivity.

Source: Pritam Banerjee

Asian Economic Integration Report 2016: What Drives Foreign Direct Investment in Asia and the Pacific?

The 2016 Asian Economic Integration Report reviews regional economic cooperation and integration in Asia and the Pacific, amidst the rising global uncertainty following the United Kingdom’s referendum on leaving the European Union and the U.S. election, slower-than-expected global economic recovery, and ongoing economic restructuring in the People’s Republic of China and growth moderation. Asia faces heightened uncertainty–trade growth decelerated in 2015, falling to 2.3% in 2015; subregional trade linkages continue to strengthen, but inter-subregional trade linkages weakened; and non-tariff measures have become major obstacles to trade. In South Asia, SASEC cooperation has improved access to key markets in smaller economies, reduced real trade costs and behind-the-border barriers to stimulate investment; and enabled cross-border power exchanges to ensure power supply affordability, reliability, and overall grid stability. However, the SASEC agenda needs to be framed within wider integration processes taking place in Asia in the next decade to enhance economic linkages, and harness the full potential of Asian integration.

Source: Asian Development Bank

Global Enabling Trade Report 2016

The Global Enabling Trade Report has been created to provide insight into trade policy and practice. It includes the Enabling Trade Index (ETI), which assesses the extent to which economies have in place institutions, policies, infrastructures and services facilitating the free flow of goods over borders and to their destination. This edition highlights that while an increasingly globalized trading system has been lifting millions out of poverty, trade barriers and costs are still preventing millions of people around the world from engaging in international trade. It reports that all South Asian economies have improved their ETI score over the past two years, with Bhutan as the most improved country in the region, jumping 12 places to 92, followed by India at 102, Sri Lanka at 103, Nepal at 108, Pakistan at 122, and Bangladesh at 123, yet the region remains the most closed worldwide. While South Asia has improved its access to foreign markets and adoption of ICTs, it needs to improve access to its domestic market – on average, South Asian countries impose a tariff of 16.7% on imported products – and enhance its transport infrastructure, particularly in Bhutan and Nepal.

Source: Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and the World Economic Forum

PERIODICALS

showing 1
Regional Organizations Cooperation Mechanism for Trade Facilitation, Issue IX, January 2016

This biannual publication features updates, publications and forthcoming activities of regional and international organizations working on trade facilitation in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Customs Organization (WCO), and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. It includes highlights of the Asia Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2015 and the Train-the-Trainer Workshops on Customs Valuation through Post Clearance Audit being jointly implemented by the WCO and ADB in the 6 SASEC member countries. This issue also features an analysis on achieving seamless supply chains through implementing comprehensive and pragmatic national trade facilitation reform programs.

Source: UNESCAP

EVENT MATERIALS

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NEWS & MULTIMEDIA

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Need to Improve Bangladesh-India Port Services Highlighted by IBCCI

A delegation of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) met with Mr. Shajahan Khan, Shipping Minister, Bangladesh, to discuss trade bottlenecks in Bangladesh-India land ports. Infrastructural and administrative bottlenecks in land and sea ports of Bangladesh and India slows down the trade process. Long delays for trucks to pass through Customs, for example, results in shortages of warehouses and trucks, and skyrocketing prices in truck rentals.

Bangladesh Wants to Be South Asia’s Transport Hub

Bangladesh has the potential to become a transport hub for India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Myamar, according to Mr. AMA Muhith, Finance Minister, Bangladesh. Turning Bangladesh into a regional and transshipment hub would enhance economic cooperation and result in collective economic growth for the countries, Mr. Muhith said at the SASEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi, India.

Railway Network Linking India and its Neighbors Under Consideration

A railway network linking India and its neighboring countries, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal, is being considered by the Government of India, according to India Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. Developing railway connectivity will increase employment, interaction, trade, and tourism.

 

PUBLICATIONS

showing 3 of 8   VIEW ALL
Facilitate Trade for Development: Aid for Trade

The Aid for Trade program has been providing support to developing economies in tackling obstacles to growth through better facilitation of trade in the last 10 years. Since its launch in 2006, a total of $308 billion has been disbursed to finance aid-for-trade programs and projects, which are working to reduce trade and transport costs, promote trade expansion, and achieve economic and social objectives. As high trade costs persist in keeping developing countries from fully exploiting their trade and development potential, the Aid for Trade program remains highly relevant, and will help developing economies, including landlocked and small and vulnerable economies, achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Source: William Hynes and Frans Lammersen

National Trade Facilitation Bodies in the World

This UNCTAD publication provides the first, in-depth quantitative analysis of 50 existing national trade facilitation bodies and a first-hand set of recommendations from experiences of participating stakeholders. It offers policy-oriented conclusions to assist countries about to set up or strengthen their national trade facilitation working groups. The study reveals that the biggest challenge for trade facilitation working groups is sustainability. Its determining elements include the administrative culture of each country, level of development, or type of body and geographical region.

Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

NTMs in South Asia: Assessment and Analysis

The study “NTMs in South Asia: Assessment and Analysis” analyzes how Non-tariff Measures (NTMs) give rise to non-tariff barriers, which are becoming increasingly crucial for advancing trade cooperation among member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, yet remain less-addressed. The study examines export potential and actual export of South Asian countries, and attempts to highlight gains from reduction in transaction costs in bilateral trade. It also notes that initiatives for trade facilitation reforms in South Asia at the regional level remain low in incentives and have yet to produce significant results. The study closes with several recommendations for reducing and eliminating NTMs.

Source: Selim Raihan, Mostafa Abid Khan, and Shaquib Quoreshi

WORKING PAPER

showing 2
Policies to Enhance Trade Facilitation in South Asia and Southeast Asia

This Asian Development Bank Institute publication identifies the state of play of trade facilitation and provides an overview of intra- and inter-regional trade in South and Southeast Asia. It highlights key challenges and bottlenecks to effective trade facilitation, ranging from the lack of expert human resources such as information technology specialists in small landlocked countries (Bhutan and Nepal), to the high border transaction costs and severe congestion faced at border crossing points, and the lack of effective dialogue on bilateral enhancement of trade facilitation. Regional initiatives such as the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Program aim to address these challenges through customs modernization and harmonization, automation, and the use of international best practices in border procedures.

Source: Anthony Bayley

Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation

This paper reports survey findings on progress in implementing various trade facilitation and paperless trade measures made by 29 countries in Asia and the Pacific, including six SASEC member countries. Factors considered include pre-arrival clearance, post-clearance audit, National Single Window, and authorized operator programmes. The survey reveals that while countries have prioritized automation and paperless trade at the regional level, there is an urgent need for regional arrangements that will facilitate cross-border exchange of trade-related electronic documents and information to enable smoother trade facilitation.

Source: Tengfei Wang and Yann Duval

REPORTS

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Asian Economic Integration Report 2016: What Drives Foreign Direct Investment in Asia and the Pacific?

The 2016 Asian Economic Integration Report reviews regional economic cooperation and integration in Asia and the Pacific, amidst the rising global uncertainty following the United Kingdom’s referendum on leaving the European Union and the U.S. election, slower-than-expected global economic recovery, and ongoing economic restructuring in the People’s Republic of China and growth moderation. Asia faces heightened uncertainty–trade growth decelerated in 2015, falling to 2.3% in 2015; subregional trade linkages continue to strengthen, but inter-subregional trade linkages weakened; and non-tariff measures have become major obstacles to trade. In South Asia, SASEC cooperation has improved access to key markets in smaller economies, reduced real trade costs and behind-the-border barriers to stimulate investment; and enabled cross-border power exchanges to ensure power supply affordability, reliability, and overall grid stability. However, the SASEC agenda needs to be framed within wider integration processes taking place in Asia in the next decade to enhance economic linkages, and harness the full potential of Asian integration.

Source: Asian Development Bank

Global Enabling Trade Report 2016

The Global Enabling Trade Report has been created to provide insight into trade policy and practice. It includes the Enabling Trade Index (ETI), which assesses the extent to which economies have in place institutions, policies, infrastructures and services facilitating the free flow of goods over borders and to their destination. This edition highlights that while an increasingly globalized trading system has been lifting millions out of poverty, trade barriers and costs are still preventing millions of people around the world from engaging in international trade. It reports that all South Asian economies have improved their ETI score over the past two years, with Bhutan as the most improved country in the region, jumping 12 places to 92, followed by India at 102, Sri Lanka at 103, Nepal at 108, Pakistan at 122, and Bangladesh at 123, yet the region remains the most closed worldwide. While South Asia has improved its access to foreign markets and adoption of ICTs, it needs to improve access to its domestic market – on average, South Asian countries impose a tariff of 16.7% on imported products – and enhance its transport infrastructure, particularly in Bhutan and Nepal.

Source: Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and the World Economic Forum

Disentangling Transit Costs and Time in South Asia

Landlocked least developed countries are often hugely disadvantaged from a lack of effective transit options, which raise transportation costs and decrease their effective participation in international trade. This study examines trade barriers that impede the trade flow of Bhutan and Nepal through India's gateway ports of Haldia and Kolkata, under the overarching research theme of the impact of regional infrastructure for trade facilitation on growth and poverty reduction. It analyzes the impact of transit regulations and agreements on the cost of services required to transit goods between the ports and Bhutan or Nepal, to identify how the two landlocked countries are affected by the cost of transit services, which trade costs vary most significantly, and how firms are affected by the cost of transit services.

Source: Prabir De, editor

PERIODICALS

showing 2
Regional Organizations Cooperation Mechanism for Trade Facilitation, Issue IX, January 2016

This biannual publication features updates, publications and forthcoming activities of regional and international organizations working on trade facilitation in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Customs Organization (WCO), and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. It includes highlights of the Asia Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2015 and the Train-the-Trainer Workshops on Customs Valuation through Post Clearance Audit being jointly implemented by the WCO and ADB in the 6 SASEC member countries. This issue also features an analysis on achieving seamless supply chains through implementing comprehensive and pragmatic national trade facilitation reform programs.

Source: UNESCAP

Regional Organizations Cooperation Mechanism for Trade Facilitation (ROC-TF) Newsletter: Issue X, August 2016

This issue highlights the framework agreement on cross-border paperless trade facilitation adopted by the United Nations Regional Commission for Asia-Pacific, which will facilitate the exchange of electronic trade data and documents between participating United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) member states, and the 2016 Global Facilitation Partnership for Transportation and Trade forum. The latterencourages the private sector to mobilize expertise in support of trade facilitation reforms to develop effective trade facilitation solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises. The Newsletter also features SASEC-supported initiatives, including the launch of the new Maldives Customs Service training module on Customs valuation, as well as data collection for establishing the Trade and Transport Facilitation Monitoring baseline in Bhutan. The ROC-TF newsletter is a biannual publication featuring updates, publications and forthcoming activities of regional and international organizations working on trade facilitation in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Asian Development Bank, the World Customs Organization, and UNESCAP.

Source: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

EVENT MATERIALS

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Bhutan: Workshop on Harmonized System
2016-08-22, Gelephu, Bhutan
 

NEWS & MULTIMEDIA

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Bangladesh Wants to Be South Asia’s Transport Hub

Bangladesh has the potential to become a transport hub for India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Myamar, according to Mr. AMA Muhith, Finance Minister, Bangladesh. Turning Bangladesh into a regional and transshipment hub would enhance economic cooperation and result in collective economic growth for the countries, Mr. Muhith said at the SASEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi, India.

Railway Network Linking India and its Neighbors Under Consideration

A railway network linking India and its neighboring countries, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal, is being considered by the Government of India, according to India Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. Developing railway connectivity will increase employment, interaction, trade, and tourism.

Davos 2017: Accelerating South Asia's Growth and Development through Regional Cooperation

The interactive session “Harnessing Regional Cooperation in South Asia” held at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum discussed how regional economic cooperation is helping accelerate growth and development. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasized continuous initiatives, in economic cooperation in South Asia, including SAFTA and SASEC. India Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman lauded initiatives to boost connectivity.

 

PUBLICATIONS

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Scaling New Heights: Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor, India’s First Coastal Corridor

This book provides policymakers with a guide to understanding India’s economic corridor development strategy by examining its first coastal economic corridor, the East Coast Economic Corridor. It lays out the plan for its first phase, the Vizag–Chennai Industrial Corridor, which can help unify the country's domestic market, integrate its economy with Asia's global value chains, and support the 'Make in India' initiative to spur manufacturing through construction of world-class infrastructure supported by a major transport network, connecting urban clusters complemented by vibrant industrial zones, and encouraging a favorable and competitive environment for businesses to thrive, and facilitating efficient movement of goods and people. As a policy instrument and development strategy, economic corridors can help fast-track inclusive and sustainable economic growth, stimulate rapid industrialization and increase productivity, promote investments, and expand regional connectivity.

Source: Sabyasachi Mitra, Rana Hasan, Manoj Sharma, Hoe Yun Jeong, Manish Sharma, and Arindam Guha

Connecting Asia: Infrastructure for Integrating South and Southeast Asia

This book contains background papers prepared for the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank Institute joint study, 'Connecting South Asia and Southeast Asia.' It emphasizes the potential contribution to growth that greater connectivity—through better transport and energy infrastructure and improved soft infrastructure, including trade facilitation—between South Asia and Southeast Asia can foster. With benefits including greater participation in global supply chains for South Asia; lower trade costs; and increase in inter- and intraregional trade, the book underscores that, at a juncture where closer regional integration can secure sustainable and inclusive growth for economies in the two regions, specific policies should be examined and considered to enable both regions to maximize gains from greater integration.

Source: Michael G. Plummer, Peter J. Morgan, Ganeshan Wignaraja, eds.

Making the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Work for SMEs

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) comprise 95% of enterprises worldwide and provides at least two thirds of private sector employment. However, when it comes to international trade, SMEs experience limited capacity in dealing with the complex administrative and regulatory procedures associated with moving and selling goods across borders. This book fills a gap by providing a reference for articles of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that are particularly beneficial to SMEs, and identifies examples of SME-specific programs, measures and interventions that can support the implementation of such provisions. It proposes mainstreaming relevant elements of the WTO TFA in existing SME policies and initiatives, to ensure that it contributes toward internationalization of SMEs.

Source: UNESCAP, UNNExT, and ITC

WORKING PAPER

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Paperless Trade in Regional Trade Agreements

This working paper provides a comprehensive list of paperless trade measures in regional trade agreements, which have become more extensive, covering increasingly specific areas including certificate of origins and sanitary and phytosanitary certificates. It also confirms that the number of paperless trade measures have doubled between 2005-2008 and 2013-2016 at the global level, with regional trade containing more provisions than those featured in the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement. It introduces the new United Nations Treaty and Framework Agreement on Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, which aims to become a tool for harmonized implementation of paperless trade provisions.

Source: Yann Duval and Kong Mengjing

The Long and Winding Road: How WTO Members Finally Reached a Trade Facilitation Agreement

The conclusion of the Agreement on Trade Facilitation at the Bali negotiations in December 2013 marked the end of a journey that lasted almost a decade. As the first multilateral trade agreement successfully negotiated by World Trade Organization (WTO) ministers, it broke new ground in the decentralized, bottom-up way the negotiations were structured; in the manner the capacities and resources of developing countries were addressed; and in how the Agreement has shifted the system’s focus beyond policy barriers toward process frictions. The negotiated outcome is likely to have an impact not just on Trade Facilitation, but on the WTO and the multilateral trading system as a whole.

Source: Nora Neufeld

Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation

This paper reports survey findings on progress in implementing various trade facilitation and paperless trade measures made by 29 countries in Asia and the Pacific, including six SASEC member countries. Factors considered include pre-arrival clearance, post-clearance audit, National Single Window, and authorized operator programmes. The survey reveals that while countries have prioritized automation and paperless trade at the regional level, there is an urgent need for regional arrangements that will facilitate cross-border exchange of trade-related electronic documents and information to enable smoother trade facilitation.

Source: Tengfei Wang and Yann Duval

REPORTS

showing 3 of 23   VIEW ALL
Development of East Coast Economic Corridor and Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor

The East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC)—India’s first coastal corridor—is an integrated economic development initiative that is expected to help pursue industrialization and integrate domestic companies into the global value chains of Southeast Asia and East Asia. Its development will start with Vizag–Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC), which covers about 800 kilometers and includes several ports and major industrial centers. This paper discusses strategies to consider when trying to improve shipping and air connectivity in the ECEC and Vizag–Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC). It stresses the importance of infrastructure development and regulatory reforms that facilitate increased connectivity.

Source: Pritam Banerjee

Mekong-Ganga Cooperation: Breaking Barriers and Scaling New Heights

The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) promotes intra-regional collaboration among Cambodia, India, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam in the areas of trade, tourism, culture, education, and transport and communications. This book reviews how MGC cooperation has grown since MGC's inception in 2000, including expansion of their economic and cultural relations. Under India's Act East Policy, MGC has gained further momentum – endorsing a Plan of Action 2016-2018, and planning extended connectivity of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. This report outlines important discussion points on trade, regional value chains, foreign direct investment, physical and digital connectivity, border connectivity, and cultural relations, to strengthen India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nation linkages through MGC.

Source: Research and Information System for Developing Countries and ASEAN-India Centre

Asian Economic Integration Report 2016: What Drives Foreign Direct Investment in Asia and the Pacific?

The 2016 Asian Economic Integration Report reviews regional economic cooperation and integration in Asia and the Pacific, amidst the rising global uncertainty following the United Kingdom’s referendum on leaving the European Union and the U.S. election, slower-than-expected global economic recovery, and ongoing economic restructuring in the People’s Republic of China and growth moderation. Asia faces heightened uncertainty–trade growth decelerated in 2015, falling to 2.3% in 2015; subregional trade linkages continue to strengthen, but inter-subregional trade linkages weakened; and non-tariff measures have become major obstacles to trade. In South Asia, SASEC cooperation has improved access to key markets in smaller economies, reduced real trade costs and behind-the-border barriers to stimulate investment; and enabled cross-border power exchanges to ensure power supply affordability, reliability, and overall grid stability. However, the SASEC agenda needs to be framed within wider integration processes taking place in Asia in the next decade to enhance economic linkages, and harness the full potential of Asian integration.

Source: Asian Development Bank

PERIODICALS

showing 3
Changing Patterns of Trade and Global Value Chains in Postcrisis Asia

This Asian Development Bank brief examines how patterns of trade and global value chains (GVCs) in developing Asia have changed since the global financial crisis. The paper reports that export slowdown in the region was caused by a combination of weak import demand for Asian goods in advanced economy markets, structural transformation and reduced import demand in the People’s Republic of China, and possible impact of increasing non-tariff measures. According to this paper, it further states that much of the weak import demand is likely to be temporary — developing Asia gained a 1.5% increase in exports in 2016, after a 0.8% decline in 2015. Among South Asian economies, India and Sri Lanka are expected to have better export volume growth in 2016.

Source: Ganeshan Wignaraja, Juzhong Zhuang, Mahinthan J. Mariasingham, and Madeline Dumaua-Cabauatan

Regional Organizations Cooperation Mechanism for Trade Facilitation, Issue IX, January 2016

This biannual publication features updates, publications and forthcoming activities of regional and international organizations working on trade facilitation in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Customs Organization (WCO), and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. It includes highlights of the Asia Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2015 and the Train-the-Trainer Workshops on Customs Valuation through Post Clearance Audit being jointly implemented by the WCO and ADB in the 6 SASEC member countries. This issue also features an analysis on achieving seamless supply chains through implementing comprehensive and pragmatic national trade facilitation reform programs.

Source: UNESCAP

UNCTAD Transport Newsletter: Fourth Quarter 2014

This United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) newsletter focuses on the development dimension and benefits of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement. It includes sections on the national trade facilitation committees, project proposal for the implementation of trade facilitation measures contained in the agreement, and improvement in implementation of sanitary and phytosanitary measures to facilitate trade. It also includes UNCTAD’s contribution to trade facilitation in Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

EVENT MATERIALS

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Nepal: Electronic Cargo Tracking System Workshop
2017-03-06, Kathmandu, Nepal
 

NEWS & MULTIMEDIA

showing 3 of 88   VIEW ALL
Need to Improve Bangladesh-India Port Services Highlighted by IBCCI

A delegation of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) met with Mr. Shajahan Khan, Shipping Minister, Bangladesh, to discuss trade bottlenecks in Bangladesh-India land ports. Infrastructural and administrative bottlenecks in land and sea ports of Bangladesh and India slows down the trade process. Long delays for trucks to pass through Customs, for example, results in shortages of warehouses and trucks, and skyrocketing prices in truck rentals.

India, Sri Lanka Sign MoU for Cooperation in Economic Projects

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited India on 25-29 April 2017, for discussion with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a range of bilateral issues and matters of mutual interest. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe welcomed the signing of the MoU for Cooperation in Economic Projects, which outlines the agenda for bilateral economic cooperation.

Bangladesh Wants to Be South Asia’s Transport Hub

Bangladesh has the potential to become a transport hub for India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Myamar, according to Mr. AMA Muhith, Finance Minister, Bangladesh. Turning Bangladesh into a regional and transshipment hub would enhance economic cooperation and result in collective economic growth for the countries, Mr. Muhith said at the SASEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi, India.

 

PUBLICATIONS

showing 3 of 6   VIEW ALL
NTMs in South Asia: Assessment and Analysis

The study “NTMs in South Asia: Assessment and Analysis” analyzes how Non-tariff Measures (NTMs) give rise to non-tariff barriers, which are becoming increasingly crucial for advancing trade cooperation among member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, yet remain less-addressed. The study examines export potential and actual export of South Asian countries, and attempts to highlight gains from reduction in transaction costs in bilateral trade. It also notes that initiatives for trade facilitation reforms in South Asia at the regional level remain low in incentives and have yet to produce significant results. The study closes with several recommendations for reducing and eliminating NTMs.

Source: Selim Raihan, Mostafa Abid Khan, and Shaquib Quoreshi

Asian Economic Integration Monitor: November 2014

This AEIM review of recent economic performance highlights the need for Asia to rebalance its sources of growth toward domestic and regional demand. It also shows a resilient Asia with rising GDP growth in South Asia. This issue includes a Special Chapter: Regional Financial Integration and Crisis in Asia and Europe – A Comparative Analysis. It presents Asia’s future path of integration as different from that in Europe. Asia will continue to strengthen efforts to harmonize rules and regulations in the financial sector and further unilateral trade and investment, while Europe is more likely to strengthen regional institutions to ensure recovery and better the monetary union.

Source: Asian Development Bank

Designing and Implementing Trade Facilitation in Asia and the Pacific

This reference book was published to support the implementation of trade facilitation measures and reforms in Asia and the Pacific. It includes operational guidance on assessing the status of trade facilitation, the measures and reforms needed, how to design trade facilitation initiatives, and how to implement them at national and regional levels. The book is intended to assist policy makers, practitioners, and economists by bridging the gap between theory and practice. The revised 2013 version includes updated statistical figures and data, information on actual trade facilitation policies and practices, and the most recent research on trade facilitation.

Source: Asian Development Bank / United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

WORKING PAPER

showing 2
Impact of Trade Facilitation on Foreign Direct Investment

This United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Trade and Investment Working Paper attempts to quantify the potential impact of trade facilitation on foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. The study uses bilateral FDI data from 2006 onward from both developing and developed countries, including South-South FDI flows, wherein contiguity (common border between source and host country) and geographic distance are found to be much more important factors. In applying an augmented FDI model framework to determine the effect of comprehensive international trade costs, the results show that both non-tariff and tariff costs are important determinants of FDI inflows.

Source: Yann Duval and Chorthip Utoktham

Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation

This paper reports survey findings on progress in implementing various trade facilitation and paperless trade measures made by 29 countries in Asia and the Pacific, including six SASEC member countries. Factors considered include pre-arrival clearance, post-clearance audit, National Single Window, and authorized operator programmes. The survey reveals that while countries have prioritized automation and paperless trade at the regional level, there is an urgent need for regional arrangements that will facilitate cross-border exchange of trade-related electronic documents and information to enable smoother trade facilitation.

Source: Tengfei Wang and Yann Duval

REPORTS

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Asian Economic Integration Report 2016: What Drives Foreign Direct Investment in Asia and the Pacific?

The 2016 Asian Economic Integration Report reviews regional economic cooperation and integration in Asia and the Pacific, amidst the rising global uncertainty following the United Kingdom’s referendum on leaving the European Union and the U.S. election, slower-than-expected global economic recovery, and ongoing economic restructuring in the People’s Republic of China and growth moderation. Asia faces heightened uncertainty–trade growth decelerated in 2015, falling to 2.3% in 2015; subregional trade linkages continue to strengthen, but inter-subregional trade linkages weakened; and non-tariff measures have become major obstacles to trade. In South Asia, SASEC cooperation has improved access to key markets in smaller economies, reduced real trade costs and behind-the-border barriers to stimulate investment; and enabled cross-border power exchanges to ensure power supply affordability, reliability, and overall grid stability. However, the SASEC agenda needs to be framed within wider integration processes taking place in Asia in the next decade to enhance economic linkages, and harness the full potential of Asian integration.

Source: Asian Development Bank

World Trade Report 2014 – Trade and Development: Recent Trends and the Role of the WTO

This annual publication highlights the relationship between trade and development, including changes since the start of the millennium. It identifies four key trends that altered the way trade affects development outcomes – accelerated economic growth in developing countries, expansion of global value chains, increase in agricultural and natural resource prices, and global nature of macroeconomic shocks. This report also explores how these trends have reshaped the role of trade in facilitating development and how recent development gains allow developing countries to adapt and mitigate risks.

Source: World Trade Organization

SASEC Website Brochure

This promotional brochure for the SASEC website features the web portal as a one-stop shop for information on SASEC activities, events, projects, and knowledge materials. The SASEC website seeks to build a dynamic discussion platform and repository of data on regional cooperation.

Source: Asian Development Bank

PERIODICALS

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Regional Organizations Cooperation Mechanism for Trade Facilitation (ROC-TF) Newsletter: Issue X, August 2016

This issue highlights the framework agreement on cross-border paperless trade facilitation adopted by the United Nations Regional Commission for Asia-Pacific, which will facilitate the exchange of electronic trade data and documents between participating United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) member states, and the 2016 Global Facilitation Partnership for Transportation and Trade forum. The latterencourages the private sector to mobilize expertise in support of trade facilitation reforms to develop effective trade facilitation solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises. The Newsletter also features SASEC-supported initiatives, including the launch of the new Maldives Customs Service training module on Customs valuation, as well as data collection for establishing the Trade and Transport Facilitation Monitoring baseline in Bhutan. The ROC-TF newsletter is a biannual publication featuring updates, publications and forthcoming activities of regional and international organizations working on trade facilitation in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Asian Development Bank, the World Customs Organization, and UNESCAP.

Source: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Regional Organizations Cooperation Mechanism for Trade Facilitation, Issue IX, January 2016

This biannual publication features updates, publications and forthcoming activities of regional and international organizations working on trade facilitation in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Customs Organization (WCO), and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. It includes highlights of the Asia Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2015 and the Train-the-Trainer Workshops on Customs Valuation through Post Clearance Audit being jointly implemented by the WCO and ADB in the 6 SASEC member countries. This issue also features an analysis on achieving seamless supply chains through implementing comprehensive and pragmatic national trade facilitation reform programs.

Source: UNESCAP

EVENT MATERIALS

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NEWS & MULTIMEDIA

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Bangladesh Wants to Be South Asia’s Transport Hub

Bangladesh has the potential to become a transport hub for India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Myamar, according to Mr. AMA Muhith, Finance Minister, Bangladesh. Turning Bangladesh into a regional and transshipment hub would enhance economic cooperation and result in collective economic growth for the countries, Mr. Muhith said at the SASEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi, India.

4th Regional Customs Enforcement Meeting

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence under the Central Board of Excise and Customs organized the 4th Regional Customs Enforcement Meeting in New Delhi, India, as part of its Founding Day celebrations. The Heads of Customs Enforcement from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Mauritius and Maldives were invited to participate in the said Meeting, which discussed issues of mutual concern, noted the need to share information and activate channels of coordination.

Online Alert System for SPS/TBT Notifications Launched

EPing, an online alert system for updates on the latest information on regulatory requirements for international trade, was launched by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the World Trade Organization, and the International Trade Centre. The system enables access to WTO member notifications on TBT and SPS measures, and facilitates dialogue among the public and private sector in the early stages of potential trade issues.

 

PUBLICATIONS

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Customs Reform and Modernization Strategies and Action Plan 2017-2021

The Customs Reform and Modernization Strategies and Action Plan 2017-2021 of the Nepal Department of Customs (DOC) aims to serve as a blueprint of Customs reform for the next four years, with a vision to support Nepal's initiatives toward economic and social prosperity. With Nepal seeing continuous increase of cross-border trade over the last decades, this Plan is being implemented to align Nepal toward international standards. It outlines the DOC's vision, mission, guiding principles, as well as strategies, such as expediting legitimate trade facilitation and enhancing Customs automation and data management, to create a conducive environment for seamless movement of cargo traffic to and from the borders, and help in lowering transaction costs through greater transport facilitation.

Source: Nepal Department of Customs

Facilitate Trade for Development: Aid for Trade

The Aid for Trade program has been providing support to developing economies in tackling obstacles to growth through better facilitation of trade in the last 10 years. Since its launch in 2006, a total of $308 billion has been disbursed to finance aid-for-trade programs and projects, which are working to reduce trade and transport costs, promote trade expansion, and achieve economic and social objectives. As high trade costs persist in keeping developing countries from fully exploiting their trade and development potential, the Aid for Trade program remains highly relevant, and will help developing economies, including landlocked and small and vulnerable economies, achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Source: William Hynes and Frans Lammersen

Making the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Work for SMEs

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) comprise 95% of enterprises worldwide and provides at least two thirds of private sector employment. However, when it comes to international trade, SMEs experience limited capacity in dealing with the complex administrative and regulatory procedures associated with moving and selling goods across borders. This book fills a gap by providing a reference for articles of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that are particularly beneficial to SMEs, and identifies examples of SME-specific programs, measures and interventions that can support the implementation of such provisions. It proposes mainstreaming relevant elements of the WTO TFA in existing SME policies and initiatives, to ensure that it contributes toward internationalization of SMEs.

Source: UNESCAP, UNNExT, and ITC

WORKING PAPER

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Policies to Enhance Trade Facilitation in South Asia and Southeast Asia

This Asian Development Bank Institute publication identifies the state of play of trade facilitation and provides an overview of intra- and inter-regional trade in South and Southeast Asia. It highlights key challenges and bottlenecks to effective trade facilitation, ranging from the lack of expert human resources such as information technology specialists in small landlocked countries (Bhutan and Nepal), to the high border transaction costs and severe congestion faced at border crossing points, and the lack of effective dialogue on bilateral enhancement of trade facilitation. Regional initiatives such as the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Program aim to address these challenges through customs modernization and harmonization, automation, and the use of international best practices in border procedures.

Source: Anthony Bayley

Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation

This paper reports survey findings on progress in implementing various trade facilitation and paperless trade measures made by 29 countries in Asia and the Pacific, including six SASEC member countries. Factors considered include pre-arrival clearance, post-clearance audit, National Single Window, and authorized operator programmes. The survey reveals that while countries have prioritized automation and paperless trade at the regional level, there is an urgent need for regional arrangements that will facilitate cross-border exchange of trade-related electronic documents and information to enable smoother trade facilitation.

Source: Tengfei Wang and Yann Duval

REPORTS

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Time Release Study: Mechi and Biratnagar Customs 2017

Time Release Study is a special tool developed by the World Customs Organization to measure effectiveness of operational procedures carried out by Customs, other regulatory agencies and private sector stakeholders in the standard processing of imports, exports, cross border and transit movements. A key activity identified in Nepal's Customs Reform and Modernization Strategies and Action Plan 2013-2017, it identifies the average time taken for clearance of consignments from entry to exit in the Customs area, enabling possible corrective measures to improve performance. This Study was undertaken to support trade facilitation measures being introduced by the Nepal Department of Customs to reduce bottlenecks to faster Customs clearance, and promote seamless movement of cargo traffic to and from the Country.

Source: Nepal Department of Customs TRS Working Group

Asian Economic Integration Report 2016: What Drives Foreign Direct Investment in Asia and the Pacific?

The 2016 Asian Economic Integration Report reviews regional economic cooperation and integration in Asia and the Pacific, amidst the rising global uncertainty following the United Kingdom’s referendum on leaving the European Union and the U.S. election, slower-than-expected global economic recovery, and ongoing economic restructuring in the People’s Republic of China and growth moderation. Asia faces heightened uncertainty–trade growth decelerated in 2015, falling to 2.3% in 2015; subregional trade linkages continue to strengthen, but inter-subregional trade linkages weakened; and non-tariff measures have become major obstacles to trade. In South Asia, SASEC cooperation has improved access to key markets in smaller economies, reduced real trade costs and behind-the-border barriers to stimulate investment; and enabled cross-border power exchanges to ensure power supply affordability, reliability, and overall grid stability. However, the SASEC agenda needs to be framed within wider integration processes taking place in Asia in the next decade to enhance economic linkages, and harness the full potential of Asian integration.

Source: Asian Development Bank

Disentangling Transit Costs and Time in South Asia

Landlocked least developed countries are often hugely disadvantaged from a lack of effective transit options, which raise transportation costs and decrease their effective participation in international trade. This study examines trade barriers that impede the trade flow of Bhutan and Nepal through India's gateway ports of Haldia and Kolkata, under the overarching research theme of the impact of regional infrastructure for trade facilitation on growth and poverty reduction. It analyzes the impact of transit regulations and agreements on the cost of services required to transit goods between the ports and Bhutan or Nepal, to identify how the two landlocked countries are affected by the cost of transit services, which trade costs vary most significantly, and how firms are affected by the cost of transit services.

Source: Prabir De, editor

PERIODICALS

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Removing Obstacles to Low Value Consignments (Trade Insights: Issue No. 18)

Diffusion of digital technology and digitalization of products and services are allowing developing country small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—which generate the majority of employment, especially in landlocked developing countries such as Nepal—to become globally competitive and participate in international trade. However, several barriers continue to hinder developing country SMEs to maximize benefits of cross-border digital trade. This publication recommends critical actions, including raising de-minimis thresholds; reducing Customs document requirements; developing low-cost and efficient transportation, delivery services, telecommunications and broadband networks; and establishing a legal framework that enhances conduct of online transactions. Additionally, neighbors in the region must coordinate and work together to build the required infrastructure, and to allow for mutual recognition or harmonization of systems, procedures, enforcement mechanisms and laws affecting digital trade.

Source: Pascale Bourquin and Adam Heal

Regional Organizations Cooperation Mechanism for Trade Facilitation, Issue IX, January 2016

This biannual publication features updates, publications and forthcoming activities of regional and international organizations working on trade facilitation in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Customs Organization (WCO), and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. It includes highlights of the Asia Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2015 and the Train-the-Trainer Workshops on Customs Valuation through Post Clearance Audit being jointly implemented by the WCO and ADB in the 6 SASEC member countries. This issue also features an analysis on achieving seamless supply chains through implementing comprehensive and pragmatic national trade facilitation reform programs.

Source: UNESCAP

EVENT MATERIALS

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Nepal: Electronic Cargo Tracking System Workshop
2017-03-06, Kathmandu, Nepal
 

NEWS & MULTIMEDIA

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Bangladesh Wants to Be South Asia’s Transport Hub

Bangladesh has the potential to become a transport hub for India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Myamar, according to Mr. AMA Muhith, Finance Minister, Bangladesh. Turning Bangladesh into a regional and transshipment hub would enhance economic cooperation and result in collective economic growth for the countries, Mr. Muhith said at the SASEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi, India.

Nepal Submits Instrument of Acceptance for Trade Facilitation Agreement

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) is getting closer to coming into force after Mr. Deepak Dhital, Nepal’s Ambassador to the WTO, submitted his country’s instrument of acceptance to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on 24 January 2017. Nepal is the 14th least developed country to ratify the TFA, which is expected to help reduce trade costs for WTO member countries.

Railway Network Linking India and its Neighbors Under Consideration

A railway network linking India and its neighboring countries, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal, is being considered by the Government of India, according to India Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. Developing railway connectivity will increase employment, interaction, trade, and tourism.

 

PUBLICATIONS

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Connecting Asia: Infrastructure for Integrating South and Southeast Asia

This book contains background papers prepared for the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank Institute joint study, 'Connecting South Asia and Southeast Asia.' It emphasizes the potential contribution to growth that greater connectivity—through better transport and energy infrastructure and improved soft infrastructure, including trade facilitation—between South Asia and Southeast Asia can foster. With benefits including greater participation in global supply chains for South Asia; lower trade costs; and increase in inter- and intraregional trade, the book underscores that, at a juncture where closer regional integration can secure sustainable and inclusive growth for economies in the two regions, specific policies should be examined and considered to enable both regions to maximize gains from greater integration.

Source: Michael G. Plummer, Peter J. Morgan, Ganeshan Wignaraja, eds.

Connecting South Asia and South East Asia

This book analyzes how closer regional connectivity and economic integration between South Asia and Southeast Asia can benefit both subregions. It aims to build a broad case for increased connectivity between the two regions and identify specific projects that have high potential to fulfill this objective. This joint study focuses on both “hard” infrastructure and associated “soft” infrastructure, including tariffs and non-tariff barriers, trade and transport facilitation, energy trading, and infrastructure investment and financing. It further provides a canvas for considering strategic cross-border infrastructure investments and policy reforms.

Source: Asian Development Bank Institute and Asian Development Bank

Developing Economic Corridors in South Asia

This book describes key conditions for transforming transport corridors into economic corridors and establishes the rationale for developing economic corridors, and the related benefits from production value chains along those corridors. It further emphasizes the significant potential of economic corridors in South Asia, particularly those being developed under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Program. The chapters highlight the impact of trade barriers on bilateral trade and present case studies on trade facilitation in South Asia. Countries in the subregion would benefit by working closely to exploit the full economic potential of economic corridors.

Source: Asian Development Bank

WORKING PAPER

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The Role of Sri Lanka in Enhancing Connectivity between South Asia and Southeast Asia

As Sri Lanka rebuilds at the end of a 30-year conflict, its progress in improving physical infrastructure—including the Colombo port expansion and other programs for new expressways and road connectivity—has been significant. Yet, the country has seen a sharp decline in its overall exports-to-gross domestic product ratio. How Sri Lanka can benefit from greater connectivity with its neighbors in South Asia and Southeast Asia is discussed in this paper. Trade policies geared towards enhancing regional integration efforts could boost Sri Lanka's economy. Additionally, to lessen the challenges of financing and sustaining implementation of planned infrastructure development efforts, Sri Lanka could also implement a more stringent institutional and regulatory environment encouraging more private sector participation.

Source: Dushni Weerakoon and Nipuni Perera

Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation

This paper reports survey findings on progress in implementing various trade facilitation and paperless trade measures made by 29 countries in Asia and the Pacific, including six SASEC member countries. Factors considered include pre-arrival clearance, post-clearance audit, National Single Window, and authorized operator programmes. The survey reveals that while countries have prioritized automation and paperless trade at the regional level, there is an urgent need for regional arrangements that will facilitate cross-border exchange of trade-related electronic documents and information to enable smoother trade facilitation.

Source: Tengfei Wang and Yann Duval

REPORTS

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Asian Economic Integration Report 2016: What Drives Foreign Direct Investment in Asia and the Pacific?

The 2016 Asian Economic Integration Report reviews regional economic cooperation and integration in Asia and the Pacific, amidst the rising global uncertainty following the United Kingdom’s referendum on leaving the European Union and the U.S. election, slower-than-expected global economic recovery, and ongoing economic restructuring in the People’s Republic of China and growth moderation. Asia faces heightened uncertainty–trade growth decelerated in 2015, falling to 2.3% in 2015; subregional trade linkages continue to strengthen, but inter-subregional trade linkages weakened; and non-tariff measures have become major obstacles to trade. In South Asia, SASEC cooperation has improved access to key markets in smaller economies, reduced real trade costs and behind-the-border barriers to stimulate investment; and enabled cross-border power exchanges to ensure power supply affordability, reliability, and overall grid stability. However, the SASEC agenda needs to be framed within wider integration processes taking place in Asia in the next decade to enhance economic linkages, and harness the full potential of Asian integration.

Source: Asian Development Bank

Global Enabling Trade Report 2016

The Global Enabling Trade Report has been created to provide insight into trade policy and practice. It includes the Enabling Trade Index (ETI), which assesses the extent to which economies have in place institutions, policies, infrastructures and services facilitating the free flow of goods over borders and to their destination. This edition highlights that while an increasingly globalized trading system has been lifting millions out of poverty, trade barriers and costs are still preventing millions of people around the world from engaging in international trade. It reports that all South Asian economies have improved their ETI score over the past two years, with Bhutan as the most improved country in the region, jumping 12 places to 92, followed by India at 102, Sri Lanka at 103, Nepal at 108, Pakistan at 122, and Bangladesh at 123, yet the region remains the most closed worldwide. While South Asia has improved its access to foreign markets and adoption of ICTs, it needs to improve access to its domestic market – on average, South Asian countries impose a tariff of 16.7% on imported products – and enhance its transport infrastructure, particularly in Bhutan and Nepal.

Source: Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and the World Economic Forum

World Trade Organization Annual Report 2015

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Annual Report 2015 provides an overview of WTO activities in 2014 and early 2015. It presents a timeline of two decades of the WTO -- from its origins succeeding the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to its current role in the multilateral trading system. It presents a chapter on how WTO helps developing countries build trade capacity and allows them to implement trade agreements. WTO training courses are organized for officials from developing countries each year.

Source: World Trade Organization

PERIODICALS

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Changing Patterns of Trade and Global Value Chains in Postcrisis Asia

This Asian Development Bank brief examines how patterns of trade and global value chains (GVCs) in developing Asia have changed since the global financial crisis. The paper reports that export slowdown in the region was caused by a combination of weak import demand for Asian goods in advanced economy markets, structural transformation and reduced import demand in the People’s Republic of China, and possible impact of increasing non-tariff measures. According to this paper, it further states that much of the weak import demand is likely to be temporary — developing Asia gained a 1.5% increase in exports in 2016, after a 0.8% decline in 2015. Among South Asian economies, India and Sri Lanka are expected to have better export volume growth in 2016.

Source: Ganeshan Wignaraja, Juzhong Zhuang, Mahinthan J. Mariasingham, and Madeline Dumaua-Cabauatan

Regional Organizations Cooperation Mechanism for Trade Facilitation, Issue IX, January 2016

This biannual publication features updates, publications and forthcoming activities of regional and international organizations working on trade facilitation in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Customs Organization (WCO), and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. It includes highlights of the Asia Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2015 and the Train-the-Trainer Workshops on Customs Valuation through Post Clearance Audit being jointly implemented by the WCO and ADB in the 6 SASEC member countries. This issue also features an analysis on achieving seamless supply chains through implementing comprehensive and pragmatic national trade facilitation reform programs.

Source: UNESCAP

EVENT MATERIALS

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NEWS & MULTIMEDIA

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India, Sri Lanka Sign MoU for Cooperation in Economic Projects

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited India on 25-29 April 2017, for discussion with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a range of bilateral issues and matters of mutual interest. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe welcomed the signing of the MoU for Cooperation in Economic Projects, which outlines the agenda for bilateral economic cooperation.

Bangladesh Wants to Be South Asia’s Transport Hub

Bangladesh has the potential to become a transport hub for India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Myamar, according to Mr. AMA Muhith, Finance Minister, Bangladesh. Turning Bangladesh into a regional and transshipment hub would enhance economic cooperation and result in collective economic growth for the countries, Mr. Muhith said at the SASEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi, India.

APTA Member Countries Move to Boost Trade in the Region

Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, South Korea, and Sri Lanka, member countries of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), moved to expand trade and boost growth in the region by agreeing to increase the number of products under preferential tariff treatment to 10,677 items from 4,270 at the 4th session of the APTA Ministerial Council.

 

PUBLICATIONS

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Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All

Governments including that of India have relied on Doing Business to provide insights into good practices worldwide. Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All presents quantitative indicators on business regulations that can be compared across 190 economies. It shows how South Asia can work to improve certain areas, including removing restrictions on women’s right to work. It also shows how South Asia has been the most successful region in terms of trading across borders. Bhutan, with a global ranking of 73, ranks highest among South Asian countries.

Source: World Bank Group

Customs Reform and Modernization Strategies and Action Plan 2017-2021

The Customs Reform and Modernization Strategies and Action Plan 2017-2021 of the Nepal Department of Customs (DOC) aims to serve as a blueprint of Customs reform for the next four years, with a vision to support Nepal's initiatives toward economic and social prosperity. With Nepal seeing continuous increase of cross-border trade over the last decades, this Plan is being implemented to align Nepal toward international standards. It outlines the DOC's vision, mission, guiding principles, as well as strategies, such as expediting legitimate trade facilitation and enhancing Customs automation and data management, to create a conducive environment for seamless movement of cargo traffic to and from the borders, and help in lowering transaction costs through greater transport facilitation.

Source: Nepal Department of Customs

Facilitate Trade for Development: Aid for Trade

The Aid for Trade program has been providing support to developing economies in tackling obstacles to growth through better facilitation of trade in the last 10 years. Since its launch in 2006, a total of $308 billion has been disbursed to finance aid-for-trade programs and projects, which are working to reduce trade and transport costs, promote trade expansion, and achieve economic and social objectives. As high trade costs persist in keeping developing countries from fully exploiting their trade and development potential, the Aid for Trade program remains highly relevant, and will help developing economies, including landlocked and small and vulnerable economies, achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Source: William Hynes and Frans Lammersen

WORKING PAPER

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Time, Uncertainty, and Trade Flows

This paper assesses the impact of international transit time and time-related uncertainty on bilateral trade, including their impact on trade costs. It concludes that international transit time matters primarily for South-South trade, while uncertainty is more important for North-North trade. Both factors are confirmed to be statistically and economically significant determinants of bilateral trade, including global value chains, and strengthens the ground on the emerging policy emphasis to address the overall costs faced by supply chain operators, including costs linked to uncertainty.

Source: Jose Anson, Jean-Francois Arvis, Mauro Boffa, Matthias Helble, and Benjamin Shepherd

Accumulating Trade Costs and Competitiveness in Global Value Chains

This paper examines the implications of trade costs, including applied tariffs, transportation and insurance costs, on competitiveness at industry, national and global levels, and identifies where trade facilitation investment would have the highest social returns from the perspective of global value chains (GVCs). With trade costs amplified along GVCs, profitability of individual business operations are affected by incurred transaction expenses. The authors conclude that direct benefits of trade facilitation will be higher for countries that are not yet well integrated into international trade, but key traders who are at the core of GVCs also stand to gain much.

Source: Antonia Diakantoni, Hubert Escaith, Michael Roberts and Thomas Verbeet

Trade and the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Trade and services are instrumental in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. While openness to trade improves economic growth prospects, sound trade policy and efforts to reduce the costs of trade are necessary to bridge the link between trade growth and poverty reduction. For low income countries, there is still great scope to leverage trade for development, and pursue better access to a products and services to improve welfare, which can significantly contribute to economic development. In keeping with the post-2015 development agenda, this paper recommends sustained efforts by governments to reduce trade costs, support policy reforms to improve services trade, and focus on trade cost reduction and services trade facilitation.

Source: Bernard Hoekman

REPORTS

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Development of East Coast Economic Corridor and Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor

The East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC)—India’s first coastal corridor—is an integrated economic development initiative that is expected to help pursue industrialization and integrate domestic companies into the global value chains of Southeast Asia and East Asia. Its development will start with Vizag–Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC), which covers about 800 kilometers and includes several ports and major industrial centers. This paper discusses strategies to consider when trying to improve shipping and air connectivity in the ECEC and Vizag–Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC). It stresses the importance of infrastructure development and regulatory reforms that facilitate increased connectivity.

Source: Pritam Banerjee

Time Release Study: Mechi and Biratnagar Customs 2017

Time Release Study is a special tool developed by the World Customs Organization to measure effectiveness of operational procedures carried out by Customs, other regulatory agencies and private sector stakeholders in the standard processing of imports, exports, cross border and transit movements. A key activity identified in Nepal's Customs Reform and Modernization Strategies and Action Plan 2013-2017, it identifies the average time taken for clearance of consignments from entry to exit in the Customs area, enabling possible corrective measures to improve performance. This Study was undertaken to support trade facilitation measures being introduced by the Nepal Department of Customs to reduce bottlenecks to faster Customs clearance, and promote seamless movement of cargo traffic to and from the Country.

Source: Nepal Department of Customs TRS Working Group

Mekong-Ganga Cooperation: Breaking Barriers and Scaling New Heights

The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) promotes intra-regional collaboration among Cambodia, India, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam in the areas of trade, tourism, culture, education, and transport and communications. This book reviews how MGC cooperation has grown since MGC's inception in 2000, including expansion of their economic and cultural relations. Under India's Act East Policy, MGC has gained further momentum – endorsing a Plan of Action 2016-2018, and planning extended connectivity of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. This report outlines important discussion points on trade, regional value chains, foreign direct investment, physical and digital connectivity, border connectivity, and cultural relations, to strengthen India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nation linkages through MGC.

Source: Research and Information System for Developing Countries and ASEAN-India Centre

PERIODICALS

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Changing Patterns of Trade and Global Value Chains in Postcrisis Asia

This Asian Development Bank brief examines how patterns of trade and global value chains (GVCs) in developing Asia have changed since the global financial crisis. The paper reports that export slowdown in the region was caused by a combination of weak import demand for Asian goods in advanced economy markets, structural transformation and reduced import demand in the People’s Republic of China, and possible impact of increasing non-tariff measures. According to this paper, it further states that much of the weak import demand is likely to be temporary — developing Asia gained a 1.5% increase in exports in 2016, after a 0.8% decline in 2015. Among South Asian economies, India and Sri Lanka are expected to have better export volume growth in 2016.

Source: Ganeshan Wignaraja, Juzhong Zhuang, Mahinthan J. Mariasingham, and Madeline Dumaua-Cabauatan

Regional Organizations Cooperation Mechanism for Trade Facilitation, Issue IX, January 2016

This biannual publication features updates, publications and forthcoming activities of regional and international organizations working on trade facilitation in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Customs Organization (WCO), and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. It includes highlights of the Asia Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2015 and the Train-the-Trainer Workshops on Customs Valuation through Post Clearance Audit being jointly implemented by the WCO and ADB in the 6 SASEC member countries. This issue also features an analysis on achieving seamless supply chains through implementing comprehensive and pragmatic national trade facilitation reform programs.

Source: UNESCAP

Removing Obstacles to Low Value Consignments (Trade Insights: Issue No. 18)

Diffusion of digital technology and digitalization of products and services are allowing developing country small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—which generate the majority of employment, especially in landlocked developing countries such as Nepal—to become globally competitive and participate in international trade. However, several barriers continue to hinder developing country SMEs to maximize benefits of cross-border digital trade. This publication recommends critical actions, including raising de-minimis thresholds; reducing Customs document requirements; developing low-cost and efficient transportation, delivery services, telecommunications and broadband networks; and establishing a legal framework that enhances conduct of online transactions. Additionally, neighbors in the region must coordinate and work together to build the required infrastructure, and to allow for mutual recognition or harmonization of systems, procedures, enforcement mechanisms and laws affecting digital trade.

Source: Pascale Bourquin and Adam Heal

EVENT MATERIALS

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Nepal: Electronic Cargo Tracking System Workshop
2017-03-06, Kathmandu, Nepal
 

NEWS & MULTIMEDIA

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Need to Improve Bangladesh-India Port Services Highlighted by IBCCI

A delegation of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) met with Mr. Shajahan Khan, Shipping Minister, Bangladesh, to discuss trade bottlenecks in Bangladesh-India land ports. Infrastructural and administrative bottlenecks in land and sea ports of Bangladesh and India slows down the trade process. Long delays for trucks to pass through Customs, for example, results in shortages of warehouses and trucks, and skyrocketing prices in truck rentals.

Watch: Powering Asia in the 21st Century

The SASEC Vision lays out opportunities through industry linkages and regional trade:

India, Sri Lanka Sign MoU for Cooperation in Economic Projects

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited India on 25-29 April 2017, for discussion with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a range of bilateral issues and matters of mutual interest. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe welcomed the signing of the MoU for Cooperation in Economic Projects, which outlines the agenda for bilateral economic cooperation.