Non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers hin­der re­gional trade

Business Bhutan - - Money - Dechen Dolkar

Bhutanese im­porters, ex­porters, and clear­ing agents ex­pressed that non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers are the big­gest hin­drances to trade in the South Asian As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion (SAARC) bloc dur­ing a con­sul­ta­tive meet­ing or­ga­nized by pol­icy ad­vo­cacy group for non-tar­iff mea­sures un­der Bhutan Cham­ber for Com­merce and In­dus­try (BCCI) last week in Phuentshol­ing.

Non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers or NTBs in short re­fer to re­stric­tion that re­sult from pro­hi­bi­tions, con­di­tions and spe­cific mar­ket re­quire­ment that make trade dif­fi­cult and costly. Clear­ing agents are those who process doc­u­ments with the cus­toms for traders to ex­port and im­port goods in the coun­try.

Traders in the coun­try use Changra­banda-Buri­mari route, which is a land cus­tom sta­tion, for ex­port and im­port of goods from Bangladesh. It is 110km from Phuentshol­ing. Sim­i­larly traders use Pan­i­tanki-Kankar­avita route which is the land cus­tom sta­tion for trade with Nepal. It is ap­prox­i­mately 200km from Phuentshol­ing.

Ex­porters high­lighted that trans­porta­tion cost has dras­ti­cally in­creased as their con­sign­ments take a min­i­mum of five to six days to en­ter into Bangladesh from the tran­sit route.

A clear­ing agent said that dif­fer­ent work­ing hours of gov­ern­ment of­fices in Changra­banda and Buri­mari bor­ders af­fect the traders. Be­cause of these dif­fer­ences in the tim­ing, ex­porters have to wait for longer hours to get the cus­toms clear­ance.

The Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of Bhutanese Ex­porters As­so­ci­a­tion (BEA), Tsh­er­ing Yeshey, said trade from Changra­banda-Buri­mari does not take place as ex­pected due to the var­i­ous prob­lems like dis­tur­bances caused by lo­cal in­sti­tu­tions and or­ga­ni­za­tion. “Tech­ni­cal prob­lems such as nar­row roads, lack of fa­cil­i­ties in Changra­bandha-Buri­mari custms sta­tion, and lim­ited han­dling ca­pac­ity of Buri­mari cus­toms are some ma­jor bar­ri­ers to trade,” he added.

He also men­tioned that around 1,000 trucks trans­port goods to Bangladesh ev­ery­day both from Bhutan and In­dia. Traf­fic con­ges­tion along the route is an­other trade bar­rier that de­lays ship­ments.

“The As­so­ci­a­tion has co­or­di­nated sev­eral border co­or­di­na­tion meet­ings among rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers to ad­dress these is­sues,” he said. “The is­sues were taken up with rel­e­vant agen­cies of our gov­ern­ment and ac­cord­ingly they writ­ten to In­dian coun­ter­parts for their co­op­er­a­tion to fa­cil­i­tate the trade.”

The de­fi­cien­cies of the hard in­fra­struc­ture at most border posts in the SAARC re­gion are sub­stan­tial like lack of poor road con­di­tions, rail­way net­works, park­ing space, and scan­ning plat­forms. The ab­sence of soft in­fra­struc­tures like sys­tems and process at cus­toms, trans­port ser­vices, bank­ing and lo­gis­tics also ham­per trade.

The pol­icy ad­vo­cacy group will sub­mit these is­sues and rec­om­men­da­tions to the gov­ern­ment for lob­by­ing to re­duce the to re­duce the trade bar­ri­ers.

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