The Indian Chamber of Commerce, the leading national chamber of India, organised ‘Integrating BIMSTEC 2022’ in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs and proposed to create a common platform for BIMSTEC countries to participate and conduct paperless trade.
The BIMSTEC member states are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Thailand. The BIMSTEC was established to leverage the geographical advantage and strengthen economic and physical connectivity through investments, trade, exchange and travel amongst member countries. The current trade amongst the BIMSTEC members has the potential to grow exponentially by five to six-folds.
The Indian Chamber of Commerce president, Pradeep Sureka, stated that the COVID-19 pandemic and the global recession harmed international trade. The countries had to impose drastic measures to control the spread of the pandemic, including travel restrictions, lockdowns, airport shutdown, border closures, delaying the entry of ships, etc. These measures affected the global supply chain.
He also stated that though the countries cannot avoid the control measures for the pandemic, the BIMSTEC countries can mitigate the pandemic effect on the economies by generating appropriate solutions. One way to strengthen economies is by maintaining regional trade, thereby limiting the physical boundaries of disruptions.
Paperless Trade Between BIMSTEC Countries
The Indian Chamber of Commerce president also stated that the BIMSTEC countries could make business transactions convenient while improving the countries’ competitiveness and ensuring regulatory compliance by moving towards paperless chains. A platform for paperless trade between the BIMSTEC countries is a more cost-effective way of trading internationally.
However, e-filing documents, navigating multiple platforms and availing tax benefits cause hardships. In this context, the current ICEGATE portal is offering cargo carriers, e-filing service to the trade, and a centralised filing system for transaction-related to cross border trade, SEZ’s, etc., to provide an integrated all related compliance under one umbrella.
Trade facilitation between the BIMSTEC countries is vital for all policymakers going forward. Thus, creating a common BIMSTEC platform for member countries to carry on paperless trade is essential to ensure that the trade and economy of these countries are not affected due to the pandemic.
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