Compiled features on recent developments in regional cooperation and integration in the SASEC region.


July 2017
ADB Forecasts Improved Growth for South Asia

Economic growth prospects in developing Asia for 2017 have improved on the back of stronger-than-expected export demand in the first quarter of this year, according to Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2017 Supplement. South Asia will remain the fastest growing of all subregions in Asia and the Pacific, with growth on track to meet projections of 7.0% in 2017.

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Tags:  South AsiaADBIndiaExportsDevelopment

June 2017
Commentary: Promise and Flux in South Asian Electricity Trade

The Asia Foundation, in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry, is preparing a study on energy trade in the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal subregion, examining how market forces, networks, and stakeholders interact. In this commentary, Mr. Aditya Valiathan Pillai, program officer of the Asia Foundation in India, discusses the creation of an energy market in South Asia and the growing importance of regional electricity trade in helping mitigate carbon emissions.

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Tags:  South AsiaBBINBangladeshBhutanIndiaNepalEnergyHydropower

April 2017
Bangladesh Wants to Be South Asia’s Transport Hub

Bangladesh has the potential to become a transport hub for India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Myamar, according to Mr. AMA Muhith, Finance Minister, Bangladesh. Turning Bangladesh into a regional and transshipment hub would enhance economic cooperation and result in collective economic growth for the countries, Mr. Muhith said at the SASEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi, India.

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Tags:  BangladeshBhutanEconomic Corridor DevelopmentEnergyICTIndiaNepalMaldivesMyanmarSASECSouth AsiaSri LankaTrade FacilitationTransportRegional Cooperation

March 2017
Commentary: Boosting Trade Facilitation in Services

A fast-rising information technology-enabled services (ITES) is opening global opportunities for the millions of Indian college graduates that enter the workforce every year. In this article, Mr. Pritam Banergee, Senior Director for Corporate Public Policy (South Asia), Deutsche Post DHL, discusses the need for India’s government and businesses to focus on trade policy reform that ensure markets remain open for the ITES sector.

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Tags:  Authorised Economic OperatorsICTIndiaEmploymentJobsServicesSouth AsiaTariffsTechnologyTrade FacilitationTrade Facilitation AgreementTrade PolicyWTO

February 2017
Bhutan Prime Minister Meets Incoming ADB Country Director

Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay met Ms. Kanokpan Lao-Araya, incoming Country Director, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Bhutan Resident Mission, and Mr. Hun Kim, Director General, ADB South Asia Department in Thimphu, Bhutan, after presentation of Ms. Lao-Araya's credentials to Bhutan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Damcho Dorji. ADB is upgrading Bhutan from a representative office to full-country operations.

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Tags:  ADBBhutanRegional CooperationSouth Asia

January 2017
Davos 2017: Accelerating South Asia's Growth and Development through Regional Cooperation

The interactive session “Harnessing Regional Cooperation in South Asia” held at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum discussed how regional economic cooperation is helping accelerate growth and development. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasized continuous initiatives, in economic cooperation in South Asia, including SAFTA and SASEC. India Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman lauded initiatives to boost connectivity.

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Tags:  South AsiaRegional CooperationTrade FacilitationTransportBangladeshBhutanIndiaNepal

December 2016
SASEC Mini Dry Port Project to Help Ease Traffic in Phuentsholing, Bhutan

Two of three South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation project components are seeing progress in Bhutan. A planned mini dry port project aims to provide cargo and other commercial vehicles a route that avoids traffic jams in the border town of Phuentsholing. A 2.66-kilometer bypass will also be built to connect Bau Bazaar in Jaigon and the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway.

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Tags:  ADBBhutanTransportCustomsRoadSASECSouth Asia

December 2016
4th Regional Customs Enforcement Meeting

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence under the Central Board of Excise and Customs organized the 4th Regional Customs Enforcement Meeting in New Delhi, India, as part of its Founding Day celebrations. The Heads of Customs Enforcement from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Mauritius and Maldives were invited to participate in the said Meeting, which discussed issues of mutual concern, noted the need to share information and activate channels of coordination.

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Tags:  CustomsTrade FacilitationSouth AsiaRegional CooperationIndiaSri LankaMyanmarBangladeshNepalBhutanMaldivesMyanmarTrade

October 2016
Power Trade to Help South Asian Countries Save $9 Billion Annually, Reduce Emissions

South Asian countries should engage more in regional energy trade and joint management of resources. By doing so, they could save over $9 billion annually and reduce carbon emissions by 8%. And since energy drives development, energy cooperation and trade is expected to translate to improved standards of living and poverty reduction.

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Tags:  EnergyHydropowerSouth AsiaBangladeshBhutanIndiaMaldivesNepalSri Lanka

September 2016
13th SAARC Trade Fair Held in Thimphu

The 13th SAARC trade fair was held in Thimphu, Bhutan, to promote intra-regional trade and investment among SAARC countries. In his opening address, Mr. Lekey Dorji, Bhutan Economic Affairs Minister, underscored the importance of fostering business links among companies in the region to accelerate economic growth and improve people's well-being.

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Tags:  SAARCTradeSouth AsiaBhutanBangladeshIndiaNepalMaldivesSri Lanka

July 2016
SASEC Investment Projects Top $7.7 Billion

South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) investment projects increased to a cumulative $7.66 billion in the areas of transport, energy, trade facilitation, and ICT with the recent approval of India’s Bihar New Ganga Bridge Project. To date, 40 SASEC-supported projects are helping member countries strengthen regional connectivity infrastructure, promote economic growth, and foster regional cooperation. In addition, there are now 71 technical assistance projects worth $66.14 mi
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Tags:  SASECEnergyTrade FacilitationTransportSouth AsiaADBICTBangladeshBhutanIndiaMaldivesNepalSri LankaEconomic Corridor Development


July 2016
ADB Blog: Why Economic Corridor Development is the Way Forward for South Asia

The economic corridor development (ECD) strategy is an approach that integrates and synergizes industry, infrastructure, and urbanization through meticulous planning over a long-term horizon. An Asian Development Bank (ADB) blog post by Mr. Hoe Yun Jeong, Senior Economist (Regional Cooperation), South Asia Regional Department, published on 26 July 2016, shares how an ECD approach can be beneficial for the South Asia region.

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Tags:  Economic corridorIndiaVizag-Chennai Industrial CorridorSouth AsiaEast Coast Economic CorridorEconomic Corridor DevelopmentBangladeshSri Lanka

July 2016
Blog: Is South Asia ready for a Regional Motor Vehicles Agreement?

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) signed a landmark Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) meant to allow smooth passage of goods and passenger vehicles in each other’s territories. In this blog post, Sanjay Kathuria, Lead Economist and Coordinator, South Asia Regional Integration, Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, World Bank, asks if South Asia is truly ready for such a regional agreement.

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Tags:  South AsiaTransportTrade FacilitationBangladeshBhutanIndiaMaldivesNepalSri Lanka

July 2016
Commentary: 800 Million Reasons

Mr. Hun Kim, Director General, South Asia Department, ADB, describes how partnership of 6 South Asian countries through the ADB-supported South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Program is helping propel economic growth in South Asia, amidst an uncertain regional and global economic climate, by working to increase trade volumes to reduce the number of impoverished people in the region.

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Tags:  Regional CooperationSouth AsiaEnergyTrade FacilitationTransportBangladeshBhutanIndiaMaldivesNepalSri Lanka

April 2016
Economic Cooperation Dialogue Highlights Need for Transport Corridors

The Economic Cooperation Dialogue on Regional Connectivity and Border Special Development Zones in Eastern South Asia highlighted the importance of transport corridors to promote trade and economic cooperation in the region. Dr. Nagesh Kumar, Head, UNESCAP Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia, shared how developing transport corridors can turn constraints faced by the region's landlocked countries into opportunities.
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Tags:  TradeTransportSouth AsiaMyanmarBangladeshBhutanIndiaNepal

April 2016
Commentary: Political Economy of Regional Integration: Where Do We Stand in South Asia?

Dr. Selim Reihan notes that drivers of political economy can impact the region's integration agenda. In this essay, Dr. Raihan highlights the importance of exploring the political economy of regional integration to generate a better assessment of the factors driving and constraining regional integration, and create broader awareness among stakeholders to stimulate a more realistic and effective regional policy design and processes.

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Tags:  Economic corridorBhutanIndiaBangladeshNepalMaldivesSri LankaSAARCSAFTAServicesSouth AsiaInfrastructureTrade FacilitationTransport

December 2015
Celebrating 30 Years of SAARC

On 8 December 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Charter was signed by Heads of State/Government of SAARC Member States during the First SAARC Summit held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. SAARC promotes welfare economics, collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia, and accelerated socio-cultural development in the South Asia region.
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Tags:  SAARCRegional CooperationSouth AsiaBangladeshBhutanIndiaNepalMaldivesSri Lanka

December 2015
Commentary: South Asia Could Be Linchpin for Regional Integration

South Asia is set to play a strategic role in Asian integration. This commentary by Mr. Ganeshan Wignaraja, Advisor in the Asian Development Bank’s Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, shares how linking emerging South Asia with the more developed member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations will transform regional economies through development of regional connectivity, and create a huge regional market of 2-3 billion people.

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Tags:  South AsiaEconomic corridorDevelopmentASEANSoutheast AsiaEast AsiaTrade FacilitationTransportTourismmanufacturingBangladeshBhutanIndiaMaldivesNepal

October 2015
SAARC CCI Develops SARCO to Resolve Trade Disputes in the Region

The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC-CCI) has developed a comprehensive mechanism to resolve SAARC trade disputes amicably through the SAARC Arbitration Council (SARCO). SARCO offers a fair mechanism, and guarantees thorough inquiry in the pursuit of legal solutions to conflicts.
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Tags:  SAARC Arbitration CouncilSAARC CCITradeSouth Asia

October 2015
Historic Opportunity to Link South and Southeast Asia: ADB Brief

Regional integration between South and Southeast Asia remains relatively limited, hindered by various problems, including bottlenecks in transport infrastructure. Enhancements in road, railways, and port infrastructure, as well as new road and rail links between Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Thailand will lower unit transport costs, reduce shipping times, and increase the quantity of goods, all of which will lead to increased trade.
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Tags:  TransportTrade FacilitationSoutheast AsiaSouth AsiaRailPorts

July 2015
SASEC Region Trade Integration Indicators Updated

Integration indicators in the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) subregion have been updated to include 2014 data, based on calculations by the Asian Development Bank’s Asia Regional Integration Center. SASEC trade integration has continued to increase over 2012-2014, as shown by its Intra-regional Trade Intensity Index.
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Tags:  South AsiaTradeTrade Integration

May 2015
Potentially Large Gains from Enhanced South Asia-Southeast Asia Connectivity

The time is ripe to enhance economic integration between South Asia and Southeast Asia according to a joint study by the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank Institute. While cross-subregional trade has increased from $4 billion to $90 billion over a 23-year period, bottlenecks in infrastructure, financial markets, trade facilitation, trade barriers and regional cooperation continue to limit further improvement of economic ties.
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Tags:  South AsiaSoutheast AsiaTransportTrade Facilitation

November 2014
SAARC Moves toward Multimodal Connectivity in South Asia

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries are currently working on six Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) that will link South Asia by rail, road, air and sea, to stimulate greater trade within the region.  This includes the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement and SAARC Regional Railways Agreement.
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Tags:  ConnectivitySouth AsiaTransport

September 2014
Gender Dimensions of Regional Cooperation

The South Asia Department of Asian Development Bank (ADB) will host a validation forum on the Gender Dimensions of Regional Cooperation and Integration in South Asia, on 28-29 October 2014 at ADB Headquarters in Manila, Philippines. Results of two complementary studies (i) “Gender, Trade and Green Growth in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal” and (ii) “Gender and Safe Mobility: Promising Global and Regional Practices” will be presented.
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Tags:  GenderRegional CooperationSouth Asia

August 2014
Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia

Climate change alters the dynamic of energy security in South Asia with electricity demand projected to grow fourfold by 2030. Climate change adaptation and variability in the region renders most countries vulnerable. Access to energy services affects practically all aspects of sustainable development.
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Tags:  South AsiaEnergyClimate Change

July 2014
Reducing Practical Barriers to Trade

The World Economic Forum's Global Enabling Trade Report: 2014 offers a tool to monitor progress on implementing measures for the Trade Facilitation Agreement. It provides insights on how countries in South Asia can significantly gain from the $1 trillion boost the Trade Facilitation Agreement is expected to bring to the global economy.
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Tags:  Trade FacilitationTrade PolicyPoverty ReductionBangladeshIndiaNepalSouth AsiaTrade Facilitation AgreementTradeWTO

May 2014
SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework 2014–2018 Endorsed by Members

SASEC countries Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal have endorsed the SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework 2014–2018 (TF Strategy) for implementation.  The TF Strategy supports the mission of the SASEC Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy “to promote the prosperity of the subregion by facilitating the efficient movement of trade across the borders”.
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Tags:  Trade FacilitationRegional CooperationSouth Asia

January 2014
ADB Regional Cooperation Operations Business Plan (RCOBP) 2014-2016 for South Asia

ADB's third Regional Cooperation Operations Business Plan (RCOBP) 2014-2016 for South Asia under its South Asia Regional Cooperation Strategy (RCS) 2011-2015 details a cumulative indicative lending program of $3.3 billion and maintains focus on improved regional connectivity, increased cross-border trade, and strengthened regional economic cooperation.
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Tags:  Regional CooperationSouth AsiaInfrastructure

November 2012
ADB Assisting South Asia to Reduce Trade Barriers

ADB is providing $48 million to help goods move more smoothly in and out of Bangladesh Bhutan and Nepal.
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Tags:  ADBBangladeshBhutanCustomsNepalSASECSouth AsiaTradeTrade Facilitation

November 2012
SASEC Holds National Workshop on Revised Kyoto Convention

ADB's South Asia Regional Cooperation Divison and the World Customs Organization organized a workshop held in Thimpu Bhutan from 26-28 November to help prepare Bhutans accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention.
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Tags:  BhutanCustomsEnvironmentSASECSouth AsiaSustainabilityTradeTrade Facilitation

November 2012
SASEC Energy Officials Endorse Feasibility Studies for Transmission Investments

The SASEC energy working group agreed to conduct feasibility studies for three new priority large-scale cross-border transmission projects worth over $3 billion at a meeting on 9 November 2012 in Thimphu Bhutan.
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Tags:  BhutanEnergyInvestmentSASECSouth Asia

October 2012
Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2012

ADB in cooperation with UNESCAP organized the Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum (APTFF) held on 30-31 October 2012.
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Tags:  ADBAsia-PacificDevelopmentRegional CooperationSASECSouth AsiaSri LankaTrade FacilitationUNESCAP

October 2012
South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Transmission Utility Forum

Many countries in the South Asia region face the challenges of energy shortages as they gear up for higher economic growth.
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Tags:  EnergyRegional CooperationSASECSouth AsiaSri Lanka

June 2012
SAARC Working Group on Reduction in the Sensitive Lists under SAFTA Phase III

The SAARC Working Group noted that under Phase II all member states had already reduced their respective Sensitive Lists by a minimum of 20%. Bhutan India and Maldives had made substantial reductions in their lists which in fact were significantly more than the previously mandated reduction level.
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Tags:  BhutanFree Trade AgreementIndiaMaldivesSAARCSAFTASouth AsiaTrade

May 2012
SAARC Finance Ministers Meet in Manila

SAARC Finance Ministers met at an informal meeting in Manila on 3 May 2012 on the sidelines of the 45th ADB Annual Meeting.
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Tags:  Economic cooperationRegional CooperationADBRegional IntegrationSAARCSouth AsiaTrade

May 2012
SASEC Nodal Officials Meeting

The Nodal Officials of the SASEC Program met at the sidelines of the 45th ADB Annual Meeting in Manila on 3 May 2012.
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Tags:  ADBEnergyICTRegional CooperationSASECSouth AsiaTrade FacilitationTransport

April 2012
Historic Deal Between India and Pakistan

Issues resolved surrounding trade grievances mutual recognition and customs agreements are expected to facilitate bilateral trade between the two countries.
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Tags:  Bilateral TradeCustomsIndiaSouth AsiaTradeTrade Facilitation

March 2012
Kunming Conference

About 160 officials from 30 countries participated in the ADB conference on RCI held on 26-27 March in the PRC.
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Tags:  ADBClimate ChangeEconomic corridorEnvironmentRegional CooperationRegional IntegrationSouth AsiaSustainabilityTransportTrade Facilitation