KOLKATA, INDIA (6 February 2018) — India and Nepal plan to launch a pilot project to ease the release of cargo using an electronic cargo tracking system (ECTS), supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Senior customs officials of India, officials of the Nepal consulate in Kolkata, transport operators and traders, and other stakeholders discussed the use of ECTS at a workshop in Kolkata today.

The ECTS uses satellite positioning systems, cellular communications, radio frequency identification, and other web-based software to ensure the security of cargo. It will be operated by a managed service provider, which will offer an integrated end-to-end system for transit facilitation through a web application covering the filing and processing of the transit declarations as well as tracking.

“The use of the ECTS will ensure safe and secure transit, simplify border formalities, reduce transit time and transaction cost, and improve shipment visibility,” said Manish Chandra, Commissioner of Kolkata Customs. “It will provide a tracking facility to customs officials, which should help ensure cargo security, making it possible for them to extend higher levels of facilitation.”

In June 2017, India and Nepal signed a memorandum of intent to pilot the tracking system to ease transit of cargo by road and rail from Kolkata to four major customs points of Nepal—Kolkata-Birgunj via Raxaul, Kolkata-Sirsiya inland container depot via Raxaul, Kolkata-Biratnagar via Jogbani, and Kolkata-Bhairahawa via Sonauli corridors. Transport operators that will use the ECTS will enjoy simpler procedures and streamlined documentation.

“As a landlocked country, Nepal welcomes the introduction of the ECTS,” said Rabi Shanker Sainju, Joint Secretary in Nepal’s Ministry of Commerce. “Our traders look forward to the increased reliability, efficiency, and reduction in transit cost that it will bring.”

The ECTS is an important initiative under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program, which groups Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, with ADB as the secretariat.

SASEC is a projects-based partnership, which aims to improve cross-border transport connectivity, promote energy trade, and facilitate faster and less-costly trade among the participating countries. Since SASEC’s establishment in 2001, participating countries have undertaken 49 projects in transport, energy, trade facilitation, and information and communications technology worth almost $11 billion.

“The ECTS is a major tool to ease the movement of cargo within and across international borders,” said Ronald Butiong, Director for Regional Cooperation of ADB’s South Asia Department. “We expect it to be used along major corridors in the SASEC countries, which will help boost intra-subregional trade.”

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is owned by 67 members—48 from the region.

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