UN: India boosts cross-border trade in pandemic
The result of a latest survey comes as Indian exports hit highest monthly record ever in July.
With exports worth $35.2 billion recorded in July, India has scored the highest ever monthly achievement in the category – which showed an increase of 47.91 per cent over $23.78 billion in July 2020. According to figures released by the Ministry of Commerce, merchandise imports also went up to $46.4 billion in the same month.
The top five commodity groups of export which recorded positive growth during July 2021 compared to the same period last year are petroleum products (215.68 per cent), gems and jewellery (130.44 per cent), cereals (70.25 per cent), man-made yarn and fabrics (58.67 per cent) and cotton yarn and fabrics (48.02 per cent). Exports remained above $30 billion for the fifth consecutive month in July with the previous peak in March at $34.5 billion.
Amid this gush of good news, a UN survey has further added to the positive outlook, noting that India has made noticeable progress in ease of cross-border trade. The UN Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation, which tracked 143 economies on key trade facilitation parameters over a two-year period, saw India’s rank move up from 78.49 per cent in 2019 to 90.32 per cent in 2021. The biannual survey deals exclusively with trade facilitation measures taken up by countries.
According to the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), the UN survey result showed a remarkable improvement in India’s ranking on ‘digital and sustainable trade facilitation’.
Indeed, India was among the best-performing countries in South and South-West Asia, and the Asia Pacific region, CBIC said. India’s overall score was also higher than many Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, and the average of the European Union. Among developed countries, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Japan and Belgium have scored more than 93 per cent. In South Asia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were behind India with a score of 64.5 per cent and 60.2 per cent, the survey showed.
India tops transparency and paperless trade parameters
What also stands out from the survey is that as per the 2021 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 tracks 58 parameters identified with trade facilitation, such as facility for electronic submission of declarations and electronic payment of duties and fees and electronic application for refunds, which are seen as benchmarks of global best practices.
The report comes at a time when the Narendra Modi-led Indian government is making all-out efforts to improve India’s attractiveness as a business destination and to capture a larger pie of the global supply chain of goods and services. Boosting cross-border trade will be a key element of the strategy for post-pandemic economic recovery, economic analysts said.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the Modi government has implemented several measures to eliminate red tape and implement faster clearance of goods at customs. Last month, customs authorities put in place a host of measures to speed up assessment and clearance of shipments – especially in view of the pandemic-related emergency supplies of vaccines, health kits and other accessories.