Developing India's Land Border Infrastructure to Improve Trade with Neighbors
14 October 2018
Upgrading land customs stations (LCS) to integrated check posts (ICP) can help ease India's cross-border trade bottlenecks, a news feature highlighted. In 2017-2018, the Petrapole ICP recorded an increase of Rs 3,000 crore (around $405.5 million) in its cross-border trade upon being upgraded into an ICP in 2016. Trade figures grew to Rs 19,000 crore (around $2.57 billion) in 2018-2019 from Rs 16,000 crore (around $2.16 billion) in 2015-2016. Petrapole ICP is a major trade gateway between Bangladesh and India. By being upgraded into an ICP, facilities such as parking bays, weighbridges, bank/ATMs, and foreign exchange bureaus were constructed.
Nearly 95% of India's border trade happens at land border crossings—converting more LCSs into ICPs may help boost India's trade in the region. According to Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Government of India, India is prioritizing trade with its neighbors, and aims to tap into its $61 billion export potential to countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region. Current export figures is worth $14 billion. Mr. Prabhu also noted that improving the trade relationship would result into healthier diplomatic ties.
Landlocked Bhutan and Nepal would also benefit from development in India's land border infrastructure through improved access to sea ports. To date, seven LCS have been upgraded into ICPs:
Agartala and Petrapole ICPs on border crossings between India and Bangladesh. A third, Dwaki ICP on Meghalaya, is under construction;
- Attari ICP on the border crossing between India and Pakistan;
- Raxaul and Jogbani ICPs on border crossings between India and Nepal; and
- Moreh ICP on the border crossing near Myanmar. A cargo terminal is currently being constructed in this crossing point.
- The Government of India's Cabinet Committee on Security is currently reviewing a Rs4,500 crore (around $608 million) proposal to upgrade 13 more land borders into ICPs. This includes LCSs between India and Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal:
- Hili and Fulbari LCS on the border crossing points between India and Bangladesh;
- Jaigaon LCS on the border crossing between India and Bhutan; and
- Panitanki LCS on the border crossing between India and Nepal.
Mr. Anil Bamba, Chairman of the Land Ports Authority of India, underscored that once operational, the 20 ICPs would hugely ease India’s trade bottlenecks. This development plan also supports the National Committee on Trade Facilitation's emphasis to boost the country's cross-border trade.