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Procedural approvals cause low intra-subregional trade: Study

Procedural approvals for both importers and exporters to transport pulses from Nepal to Bhutan via India takes at least 23 days, according to a report.
“It’s no different for the import or export of carpet between India and Nepal,” said the study that revealed that 21 clearances for importers take as many as 21 days.
The traders of lentils need as many as 36 documents and 115 copies while orange traders need to carry 32 documents as proof and 95 copies of these documents, detailed the study done by Delhi-based think-tank Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) for Asian Development Bank (ADB) and UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) has also revealed how trade through three key corridors in the four countries faces major delay because of tardy procedural clearances.
The subregion – in South Asia – comprising India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan – remains one of the toughest places to move goods due to archaic procedures, it concluded, adding that it may take up to a month for pulses, juices and carpets to move within three countries, when the actual driving time is much less.
The report stated that on an average submission of documents over 80 per cent  is handled manually causing all the more delay to faster clearances in Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. There are issues relating to both the physical and procedural infrastructure, which are hurting trade across the four countries, the report said, adding that physical infrastructure augmentation will take more time and need greater investment, which should be taken up simultaneously. “But there is a need to prioritise process reengineering to reduce huge time lost in getting clearances for import and export of items in the region.”
The report also suggested interventions how each country can expedite clearances to boost trade. Likewise, the report also concluded that improvement of road infrastructure remains the key as most of the roads in Bangladesh cannot carry 20 tonnage trucks and it’s no good in Bhutan and Nepal.