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The UN Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation 2019 reveals that the average implementation of a common set of 31 Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation measures by SSWA countries stand at 55.4% slightly lower than the Asia-Pacific regional average of 59.7%. Moreover, SSWA members have one of the lowest average level of implementation in the region, much lesser than AUS-NZL (93%) and is only ahead of Pacific Island Developing Economies (35.5%) that is largely made up of small island economies. In general, more advanced or larger economies are at a higher level of trade facilitation than many other countries in the region, while small or less developed countries, such as LDCs or small Pacific countries, lag in the implementation of trade facilitation measures, particularly paperless and cross-border paperless trade measures.

Although trade facilitation implementation varies widely within each sub-regional grouping, differences in trade facilitation implementation levels in South and South-West Asia ranks second behind South-East Asia (see Figure 2). This can be explained by the wide development gap between the countries in the sub-region with more developed nations like Turkey (80.65%) and India (79.57%) scoring higher, while less developed nations like Bhutan (36.56%) and Afghanistan (22.58%) trailing behind. Countries with special needs in the Asia-Pacific region face challenges in implementation of ‘Paperless Trade’ and ‘Cross-Border Paperless Trade’ measures, likewise SSWA nations exhibit low levels of implementation for ‘Cross-Border Paperless Trade’ measures too.

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