South Asian trade regimes discriminate against neighbours - WB report | Sunday Observer

South Asian trade regimes discriminate against neighbours - WB report

In South Asia, protection is greater in the case of imports from within the South Asia region than from the rest of the world, as reflected in the overall trade restrictiveness index, a World Bank report highlighted. “This index measures the uniform tariff equivalent of a country’s tariff and non-tariff barriers that would generate the same level of import value for the country in a given year.

As indicated in table O.1, the indexes are two to nine times higher for imports from the South Asia region than for imports from the rest of the world in all countries except Afghanistan,” the report titled ‘A Glass Half Full’ stated. The report launched in Colombo on Monday said, “In the two largest economies in the region, India and Pakistan, the indexes are nine and six times higher, respectively, for imports from the South Asia region than for imports from the rest of the world. Moreover, although the average NTM burden may not appear high, it is high for specific product and market combinations in South Asia.”“It varies from over 75 percent to over 2000 percent; Sri Lanka’s trade regime leads to that country’s consistent appearance on the list of highest import ad valorem equivalents in the region. Tariffs reappear in other forms. Even as South Asian countries have reduced tariffs, several countries in the region have simultaneously introduced protectionist paratariffs.

Besides undermining tariff liberalization, these nontransparent para-tariffs are not part of the phase out program under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) or other free trade agreements in the region, which reduces the preference margins for SAFTA partners. Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka maintain high para-tariffs.” 

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