India has made remarkable progress in ease of cross-border trade, a United Nations survey that tracked 143 economies on key trade facilitation parameters over a two-year period said.
According to the latest United Nations Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation, India’s rank rose from 78.49 per cent in 2019 to 90.32 per cent in 2021. The bi-annual survey specifically deals with trade facilitation measures taken by individual countries.
India scores higher than many OECD and EU countries
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), in a communication posted on its website, said that the UN survey result was a remarkable improvement in India’s ranking on ‘digital and sustainable trade facilitation’.
The CBIC said the results showed that India was one of the best performers in the South and South-West Asia region and the Asia Pacific region. India’s overall score has also been found to be higher than many of the OECD countries and the average of the European Union.
Top Countries in UN Global Survey on Digital & Sustainable Trade Facilitation
Among developed countries, Australia, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand and Belgium have scored more than 93 per cent. The survey showed that in South Asia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were behind India with scores of 64.5 per cent and 60.2 per cent.
Process of Survey
The survey tracks 58 measures identified with trade facilitation, such as facilitating electronic submission of declarations and electronic payment of fees and charges and electronic applications for refunds that are viewed as global best practices. As per the 2021 survey report, India has scored 100 per cent in transparency, 95.83 per cent in formalities, 88.89 per cent in institutional arrangement and cooperation and 96.30 per cent in paperless trade.
The survey results come as a boost to policymakers in India trying to improve the country’s attractiveness as a business destination and to capture a larger pie in the global supply chain of goods and services. Promoting cross-border trade is a key element of many countries’ post-pandemic economic recovery strategies.
Since the start of the pandemic last year, Central Government has implemented a number of measures to reduce the time taken in procedures and customs clearance. From 15 July, customs officials took a number of measures to expedite the evaluation and clearance of shipments in a more anonymous manner. It is expected to streamline the faceless evaluation scheme launched last October and process shipments without a direct interface with the merchant.
Simplifying cross-border trade has been a priority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi administration as it is seen as a key determinant of ease of doing business in the country. In addition, the authorities are keen to reduce logistics costs to promote the competitiveness of the industry in world markets. During the second wave of the pandemic, when there was an acute shortage of medical supplies, the authorities implemented a simplified system for the import of relief materials with a focus on quick customs clearance followed by paperwork within a certain time frame. To check smuggling and tax evasion, CBIC is increasingly relying on technology and data sourced from other regulators such as the Income Tax Department.