Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh have progressively emerged as India’s close allies, fostering meaningful engagements as a part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Look East’ policies. Further, intra-regional trade remains a key thrust area to ensure sustainable growth in the region.
Over the years, several initiatives have been taken by Indian agencies to improve cross-border trade with the neighbouring countries. The Land Port Authority of India (LPAI), has established many Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at the border crossings to facilitate the processes of immigration, customs, security, quarantine, etc.
Despite these developments, to improve cross-border trade, more needs to be done to improve border management as delays due to physical and non-physical barriers continue to hamper smooth movement of goods in the region. Inadequacies with respect to screening facilities, parking infrastructure, warehouses, testing facilities, etc. are visible at various border points.
To facilitate faster cross-border trade and increase competitiveness, coordinated border management, entailing synchronized and synergized documentation, development of common infrastructure as well as alignment of working hours and procedures at these border points is of utmost importance. This also aligns with the vision of the Government of India as part of the NTFAP (National Trade Facilitation Action Plan) Action Point 10 (Reference TFA provision: 8.2) and towards achieving the NTFAP target of bringing down the average import release time to 48 hours and average export time to 24 hours for land ports.
In consonance with the aforementioned context, this study provides an action plan for setting up coordinated border management between India and its neighbours (Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal), while carefully assessing the feasibility of common facilitation, in terms of development of infrastructure and alignment of regulatory procedures.