Cross Border Trade Current Affairs - 2020

Neighbourhood First Policy: India hands over 10 Railway Locomotives to Bangladesh

On July 27, 2020, India handed over 10 Railway Locomotives to bolster its Neighbourhood First Policy. India had committed to Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina during her visit to India to provide broad gauge diesel locomotives to the country.

Highlights

The handing over event was conducted virtually and was attended by Indian External Affairs Minister S Jai Shankar, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and their Bangladeshi counter parts.

First Cross Border Train

It is to be noted that the first container train from India reached Bangladesh very recently. The train carried FMCG (Fast Moving consumer Goods) products. The FMCG products are consumer goods such as soap, detergents, shampoos, and other essential products used in day to day life.

The First container trainer carried around 50 containers. The container service is to operate regularly from now on. The service links Majerhat near Kolkata with Benapole, Singia, Jessore, Noapara and Bangabandhu Setu West in Bangladesh.

Already there are two passenger trains running between India and Bangladesh. They are Bandhan Express connecting Kolkata and Khulna and Maitree Express connecting Kolkata and Dhaka.

Background

India and Bangladesh have close trade ties. However, the trade was greatly affected due to COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, it is essential to strengthen cross border transport infrastructures

Also, China has been determined to reach out to India’s periphery to draw them into its influence. In Bangladesh, China sealed in 2016 that was worth of 20 billion USD eclipsing India’s Line of Credit of 8 billion USD since 2011.

In Sri Lanka, China offered concessional loan of 500 million USD to overcome its economic issues.

India to conduct 1st National Time Release Study for faster movement of Cargo

Department of Revenue, under Union Ministry of Finance, is conducting India’s 1st National Time Release Study (TRS) for enabling faster movement of cargo across borders to benefit traders. TRS is an internationally recognized tool advocated by Brussels based World Customs Organization (WCO) to measure efficiency and effectiveness of international trade flows.

National Time Release Study

It is an initiative for accountable governance that will measure rule based and procedural bottlenecks including physical touchpoints in clearance of goods, from time of arrival until physical release of cargo.  It is part of India’s strategic commitment to improve global trade will be conducted between 1- 7 August 2019. However, from now onwards exercise will be institutionalized on an annual basis, during same period every year.

Objective: To identify and address bottlenecks in trade flow process. To take corresponding policy and operational measures required to improve effectiveness and efficiency of border procedures, without compromising efficient trade control.

Expected Beneficiaries: will be export oriented industries and MSMEs (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises) who will enjoy greater standardization of Indian processes with comparable international standards.

Process Followed:

Earlier individual customs formations had been independently conducting TRS studies at port level. However National TRS have evolved a uniform, multi-dimensional methodology which measures regulatory and logistics aspects of cargo clearance process and establishes average release time for goods.

National TRS will have standardized operations and procedures across all ports and will also establish baseline performance measurement. Exercise will be conducted at same time across 15 ports including sea, air, land and dry ports which together accounts for 81% of total Bills of Entries for import and 67% of Shipping Bills for export filed within India.

Based on results of TRS, government agencies associated with cross border trade will be able to diagnose existing and potential bottlenecks which act as barriers to free flow of trade and thus enabling them to take remedial actions for reducing cargo release time. The initiative is on ground lead by Central Board of Indirect Tax and Customs (CBIC).

Benefits:

This initiative will help India maintain upward trajectory on Ease of Doing Business (EDB), particularly on Trading Across Borders indicator which measures efficiency of cross border trade ecosystem (i.e. time and cost associated with logistical process of exporting and importing goods every year). In 2018 India’s ranking on indicator improved from 146 to 80.