Regional overview: South Asia
All economies in South Asia have improved their ETI score over the past two years, contributing to the positive economic momentum currently experienced by the region; but some have progressed slower than others, thus slipping down the ranking. In particular, Sri Lanka (103rd), Pakistan (122nd) and Bangladesh (123rd) all slipped down the ranking in spite of improved scores. Bhutan was the most improved country in the region, climbing 12 positions and becoming the regional leader at 92nd, followed by India (up four to 102nd) and Nepal (up four to 108th). South Asia remains the most closed region in the world, particularly when it comes to granting access to its domestic market, where its performance deteriorated with respect to two years ago. On average, South Asian countries impose a tariff of 16.7 percent on imported products (an increase from 15.8 percent in 2014). The region has improved its access to foreign markets and adoption of ICTs (most improved region in the world in this dimension), while progress has been slow in terms of transport infrastructure, particularly in Bhutan and Nepal, which suffered the effects of the devastating earthquake of April 2015 and faces continued tensions along its border with India (down 13 to 135th in transport infrastructure, and three in transport services to 119th).
Focus on India
India gains four positions but remains at a disappointing 102nd. Improvements in terms of border administration (75th, up eight) and clearance efficiency (38th, up 27) were partially outweighed by a further deterioration of domestic market access conditions (second last globally), with only 13 percent of imported goods free of duty and an increase in average tariffs applied to 13 percent. In terms of overall market access, India is the second most closed (135th) after Iran. There have been large advancements in terms of transport infrastructure (up three, to 28th) and services (up 14, to 44th), and smaller ones in ICT adoption, with India actually stalling and losing grounds vis-à-vis other countries in the diffusion of the most advanced technologies, such as mobile and fixed broadband (125th and 104th, respectively). Finally, the local operating environment has also slightly improved (up three, to 76th), driven by better efficiency and accountability of public institutions and openness to foreign participation.