By  on June 24, 2008

GENEVA — Developing countries that are major textile and apparel exporters, such as China, India and Vietnam, are lagging behind on removing barriers to enhance the flow and efficiency of international trade, according to a report from the World Economic Forum.

The report measures how 118 economies worldwide are performing on facilitating the free flow of goods.

Hong Kong, Singapore and Sweden occupy the top three spots on how nations are performing in four key areas: market access, border administration, transport and communications infrastructure and business environment. The U.S. is 14th, with "The Global Enabling Trade Report" noting that while the world's biggest economy benefits from strong transportation and infrastructure, ranked third worldwide, the country's border administration, "is seen as comparatively burdensome (ranked 42nd) and there is high cost to import (ranked 65th). In addition, there are some concerns about security in the country."

With the exception of top-ranked Hong Kong, most key textile and apparel exporting nations are positioned far down the rankings. Among those, Turkey is rated 38th, followed by Mauritius at 40th, while the world's biggest apparel exporter, China, is positioned 48th. India is 71st, Pakistan is 84th and Vietnam is 91st.

In the case of China, the report asserts, its ranking "is fairly low" for one of the world's most successful exporters. This highlights a number of underlying weaknesses in its economy and trade regime, the WEF said.

While the availability of transport services are among the best in China (ranked 17th), its border administration is fairly efficient and importing products is not costly, the report said that "particular concern when exporting and importing is the lack of transparency of border administration, which can be particularly heavy for foreign business."

Another drawback sited is that "imports are still severely inhibited by tariff and non-tariff barriers."

The WEF report shows that one North American Free Trade Agreement partner, Canada, is ranked fifth, while Mexico, which is "hampered by a fairly high tariff rate" and costly import procedures, is positioned 65th. In the case of Mexico, "moving one container over the border costs seven times more than the best-performing country on this indicator, Singapore," the report said.

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