By  on October 16, 2007

GENEVA — Major textile and apparel exporting nations, led by India, posted significant gains in the last year in lowering costs and simplifying international trade in goods, according to the World Bank's "Doing Business 2008" report.

"China, Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey and Vietnam all improved in the ease of doing business," the study said.

India, the second-best performing major emerging market after China, implemented reforms that helped cut delays for exports and imports by seven days.

The report tracked 10 indicators of business regulation in 178 nations between April 2006 and June 2007 that monitor the cost of meeting government requirements in business.

"Investors are looking for upside potential and they find it in economies that are reforming, regardless of their starting point," Michael Klein, World Bank vice president, said in the report.

Singapore topped the global aggregate rankings on the ease of doing business, followed by New Zealand, the U.S. and Hong Kong. Singapore also ranked first in the trading-across-borders category, followed by Denmark and Hong Kong.

Egypt, Croatia and Ghana topped the list of reform economies. In Egypt, the launch of one-stop shops for traders at the ports helped cut the time to import by a week and the time to export by five days, bringing the period to meet all export and import requirements down to 15 and 18 days, respectively.

The Indian reforms included the introduction of online customs declarations for imports and exports.

"Arriving ships now submit their cargo manifest electronically, allowing the clearance process to begin before the ship docks," noted the study. As a result, traders in India can now submit customs declarations and pay customs fees online before a cargo shipment arrives in port.

"It takes 18 days to meet all the administrative requirements to export — in 2006 it took 27," said the study.

Other major textile and apparel exporting nations that have moved to streamline their customs administration operations in the last year include Turkey, Morocco, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Mauritius.

In Turkey, the introduction of electronic customs procedures helped reduce the time to export by six days and the time to import by 10 days, bringing the period to export shipments to 14 days and time to import down to 15 days.However, India, Turkey, Egypt and other emerging nations still have a long way to go to match the competitiveness and efficiency of Singapore, where it takes five days to complete all export procedures and three days for imports, the report said.

The longest delays for the export of goods are Sub-Saharan Africa, where it takes on average 35 days; South Asia, 33 days; East Asia and the Pacific region 24 days, and Latin America and the Caribbean, 22 days.

In China, it takes on average 21 days to meet all the export requirements and 24 days for imports. However, China is ranked the cheapest country for cost per container exported at $390, ahead of Singapore, $416 per container.

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