India Ready for Truck with Seamless South Asia Trade

A truck is trundling its way to Delhi, making history along the way . It's carrying goods made for global retail chain Marks & Spencer, having left the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on August 28 and set to reach Delhi on Monday . It will mark the start of an endeavour to create a seamless mega market comprising Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and India (no Pakistan). There is a clear cost and time advantage to through transport.
“We are expecting the freight cost to come down by 20% and transit time by three days due to this,“ said Nidhi Dua, India country manager for Marks & Spencer. “Earlier the Bangladeshi trucks had to be offloaded at the border and the goods shifted for onward journey into India in Indian trucks.“
Apart from the delays, goods would get damaged as they were transferred between trucks besides making them vulnerable to the weather and pilferage.
The pilot run of the Bangladeshi truck through customs-free borders is being monitored in real time thanks to an onboard chip. The template may be followed for all forms of such movement.
“This will help in seamless movement of both goods as well as passenger vehicles across borders within the South Asian region,“ a senior customs official said.
As part of the Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) signed among the countries cited above in June 2015, trucks can cross borders with just a cargo manifest and a document seeking temporary admission. An electronic seal is affixed when a vehicle reaches the first land customs station in the destination country.
The first truck is part of trials to help draw up protocols to facilitate trade while maintaining effective controls. “We have been monitoring the truck's movement since it left Benapole, the Bangladesh checkpost near Petrapole,“ said the official cited above. “Customs duty on the goods would be paid in Delhi before they are released to the company.“
The vehicle that's coming to Delhi via Kolkata will file a bill of entry at the Inland Customs Depot in Patparganj in the capital before it is cleared, the official said.
The project is in partnership with the Asian Development Bank, which is supporting the project by helping to create better physical infrastructure in the four countries.It's supporting over 30 priority road projects with a total estimated cost of over $8 billion.
The opening up is expected to help boost development of the northeast as the transport corridor runs through that region.
A World Bank study expects South Asian intra-regional trade as a whole to rise 60% thanks to the agreement.
Marks & Spencer sees trade between Bangladesh and India growing thanks to the easing of transport rules. “Marks and Spencer brings in about 20 trucks of manufactured goods every month from Bangladesh,“ Dua said.

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