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India and Nepal to pilot electronic tracking system to ease cross-border movement of goods

The governments of India and Nepal are piloting an electronic tracking system for a trial period of at least 90 days starting later this year to facilitate cross-border movement of goods according to a press release from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The electronic tracking system uses satellite positioning systems, cellular communications, radio frequency identification, electronic seals, and monitoring software to ensure the security of cargo.

It will not only help track cargo movement but also enable the detection of any unwanted incidences such as infiltration, pilferage, or deflection that may occur to cargo en route. The system is expected to help traders reduce the cost and time spent for clearing cargo at border crossings through simplified procedures.

Senior customs and trade officials from India and Nepal met in Mumbai last week to discuss ways to ease traffic-in-transit along the route from Kolkata to four major customs points of Nepal.

India’s Customs Commissioner Sandeep Kumar and Nepal’s Commerce Ministry Joint Secretary Rabi Shanker Sainju signed a memorandum of intent (MoI) to pilot the system.

The tracking system will be piloted for Nepalese transit cargo by road and rail along Kolkata-Birgunj via Raxaul, Kolkata-the inland container depot (ICD) in Sirsiya via Raxaul, Kolkata-Biratnagar via Jogbani, and Kolkata-Bhairahawa via Sonauli corridors.

Mr. Kumar said, “Government of India endeavors to work towards seamless movement of goods across border among BBIN countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal). The pilot use of the electronic tracking system will be a path-breaking development in easing cross-border transit of goods between India and Nepal. Use of this cutting-edge technology should speed up trade formalities and improve security of goods in transit, and open the way for off-border customs processes for exports, leading to substantial savings in time and cost for traders.”

The electronic cargo tracking system initiative is part of the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program, which brings together Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka in a project-based partnership with the aim of promoting regional prosperity, improving economic opportunities, and building a better quality of life for the people of the subregion. ADB, as SASEC secretariat, is supporting the piloting of the electronic tracking system. SASEC seeks to strengthen multimodal cross-border transport networks to boost intraregional trade. The program helps build modern and effective customs administration that speeds up the time and reduces the costs of moving goods, vehicles, and people across borders. 

Featured image: Nepal-India border (By Lev Yakupov/ CC BY-SA 2.0)

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