As international trade gets back to normalcy with gradual lifting of lockdowns across countries, difficulties in cargo movement and clearance processes are likely to continue, said an Asian Development Bank blog post.
Emphasising the need for automations, the blog post said that although the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) countries have made progress in automation, there is still a need for physical interfacing and paper filings, which is difficult during the pandemic.
“Inadequate digitisation in many of the cross-border regulatory agencies, and lack of digital connectivity among these agencies, ports and terminal operators, and shipping lines further hindered the flow of cargo,” it said.
“Automation of clearance processes, which should have played a greater role in helping cargo move seamlessly across borders, with limited need for human contact, affords an example of the gaps in trade facilitation progress,” said the blog authored by Aileen Pangilinan and Satish Reddy.
It noted that the pandemic has underscored the importance of trade facilitation, particularly for responding to crises. The need to clear cargo expeditiously, with minimum physical interface and to maintain efficient supply chains has highlighted the need for an enhanced trade facilitation environment.
The pandemic has also highlighted the need to institutionalise business continuity protocols, cross-border pandemic management protocols, and workplace and staff safety procedures, as per the ADB blog post.