SASEC News Year:  

March 2017
India-Myanmar Connectivity to Enhance South Asia-Southeast Asia Linkages

Several initiatives have been undertaken to build connectivity between India, through its Northeast region, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) region, through Myanmar, including the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project and the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway. Myanmar joined the SASEC partnership as a full member in February 2017, a move that is expected to further promote and accelerate inter-subregional cooperation between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
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March 2017
SASEC Program Is Now on Facebook

SASEC is now on Facebook, connecting followers to the most up-to-date news on regional cooperation in South Asia, SASEC events, project information, and publications that are all featured daily on www.sasec.asia. To follow SASEC on Facebook, simply click here; then click “Like” at the top of the Facebook page.


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Tags:  SASECBangladeshBhutanIndiaMaldivesMyanmarNepalSri LankaRegional CooperationTradeEconomic cooperation
 

February 2017
Speech: Making Trade More Inclusive

Amidst the rising debate against trade and globalization, World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevêdo argues against increasing protectionism and emphasizes how trade has proven its worth in development benefits. He remarks how trade can become more inclusive, with gains shared across society.


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Tags:  TradeDevelopmentEmploymentGlobalizationTrade FacilitationProtectionism
 

February 2017
India Files Proposal for Trade Deal on Services

India filed a draft Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) on Services at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 23 February 2017. The proposal aims to increase transparency, reduce costs and facilitate cross-border flows of services. India is looking to push the proposal at the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December.


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Tags:  CustomsIndiaServicesTrade Facilitation AgreementTransparencyTransportWTO
 

February 2017
India Exploring Cargo Train to Bangladesh and Rail Lines to Nepal

India is looking to improve subregional cooperation in South Asia by pushing for better rail connectivity with Nepal and Bangladesh. Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Railways Minister, India, said India is looking to connect Delhi and Kolkata with Kathmandu by rail in order to strengthen cross-border connectivity and help move people between India and Nepal. The country is also looking to run cargo trains to Bangladesh to enhance bilateral trade.


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February 2017
ADB, India Ink $375 Million Loan/Grant Agreement to Develop the Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor

The Asian Development Bank and the Government of India have signed a $375 million agreement to develop the 800-kilometer Visakhapatnam (Vizag)-Chennai Industrial Corridor. The agreement includes the first tranche of $245 million, which will develop high-quality infrastructure in Visakhapatnam and Yerpedu-Srikalahasti, a $125 million policy-based loan, and a $5 million grant to build climate change resilient infrastructure.


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Tags:  ADBEconomic corridorIndiaAct East PolicyMake in Indiamanufacturing
 

February 2017
WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement Enters into Force

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement came into force after Rwanda, Oman, Chad, and Jordan submitted their instruments of acceptance to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo. The submissions bring the total number of ratifications over the 110 required for activation. Members’ trade costs are forecast to lower by 14.3%, with developing countries having the most to gain.


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Tags:  BangladeshIndiaLDCMyanmarNepalSri LankaTrade Facilitation AgreementWTO
 

February 2017
Myanmar Joins SASEC

The SASEC Secretariat is happy to announce that the Government of Myanmar has joined the SASEC partnership as a full member on 21 February 2017.


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Tags:  MyanmarSASEC
 

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
 

February 2017
ADB to Increase Support to Nepal to $1.2 Billion

ADB has allocated $843.8 million for Nepal for 2017-2019. An additional $356 million can be made available over the period for projects contributing to regional cooperation and integration and reduction of disaster risks, provided that Nepal continues to improve performance of its ongoing projects, according to Mr. Wencai Zhang, Vice President, ADB. 


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Tags:  NepalADBRegional CooperationInfrastructureEnergy
 

February 2017
ADB to Back Bangladesh Road Connectivity and Energy Trade

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is ready to assist Bangladesh in its efforts to improve transport and energy connectivity. Mr. Wencai Zhang, Vice President, ADB, affirmed that ADB will continue to support Bangladesh in its goal of becoming a developed country by 2041, as well as in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and minimizing climate change impact.


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Tags:  ADBBangladeshBhutanBBINCooperationDevelopmentMotor Vehicles AgreementEnergyInvestmentNepal
 

February 2017
India, Nepal Bilateral Meeting Discusses Operational Modality of New Transmission Lines

The Governments of India and Nepal discussed how to bring transmission line projects—the Dhalkebar (Nepal)-Muzaffarpur (India) transmission line, Raxaul (India)-Parwanipur (Nepal) transmission line, and Kataiya (India)-Kushaha (Nepal) transmission line—into operation. They agreed to increase the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur transmission line to 220 kVa capacity in May 2017, and begin electricity import through the Raxaul-Parwanipur and Kataiya-Kushaha transmission line.


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Tags:  IndiaNepalEnergyTransmissionHydropowerTradeElectricity
 

February 2017
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka to Sign a Free Trade Agreement

Mr. Tofail Ahmed, Bangladesh Commerce Minister, reported that Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have reached consensus to sign a free trade agreement after meeting with Ms. Yasoja Gunasekera, Sri Lanka High Commissioner in Dhaka. The FTA will give Bangladesh access to Colombo Port, and allow exports of pharmaceuticals, paper, and cement at low import duties.


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February 2017
Speech: Advancing Global Trade and the Role of the WTO

The outlook for trade growth has weakened and we are seeing an uncertain period in the global economy. In this speech delivered before the Confederation of Indian Industry, World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevêdo asserts that instead of raising barriers, the opening up of trade will ensure more opportunities for more people.


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Tags:  ConnectivityDevelopmentIndiaICTEmploymentServicesTrade Facilitation AgreementWTO
 

February 2017
Sri Lanka's Private Sector Urges Implementation of E-Payment System

Mr. Dinesh de Silva, Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Import Section, and representative of the National Trade Facilitation Committee, urged the implementation of electronic payment (e-payment) system at Customs in an article written for CCC's Trade Intelligence for the Private Sector initiative. Private sector stakeholders are advocating for a single window system.


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February 2017
Indian Business Leaders Look to Strengthen Trade to Drive Job Creation

Indian business leaders met with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevêdo to discuss the future of the global trading system. The roundtable meeting, hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce and attended by over 50 senior representatives from various sectors, focused on trade reforms to strengthen inclusive growth and other world trade developments.


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Tags:  IndiaEmploymentServicesTradeTrade FacilitationWTO
 

February 2017
BIMSTEC Senior Officials Finalize Energy Grid MoU, Discuss Transport Connectivity

The 17th Session of BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting concluded with an agreement to build a common power grid interconnection and facilitate energy trade among BIMSTEC member countries. The Meeting also discussed the need to boost transport connectivity through the proposed BIMSTEC Motor Vehicles Agreement. The Meeting marked an important step toward revitalizing the BIMSTEC process.


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February 2017
Commentary: India Infrastructure: Connecting Bihar

The Ganges flows through the middle of Bihar, India, physically dividing it into north and south. Enhanced connectivity can improve lives and livelihoods, especially if the infrastructure is climate-sensitive. Ms. Saleha Waseem, Operations Communications Specialist at the Asian Development Bank’s South Asia Regional Department, shows how improving transport links would make a huge difference to millions of people.


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Tags:  ADBAgricultureBangladeshConnectivityDevelopmentEconomic corridorRegional CooperationIndiaNepalRoadServicesTransport
 

February 2017
Cooperation the Best Option for South Asia’s Growing Power Needs

Hydropower cooperation among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal could be a viable option for addressing growing power needs in the region, said Mr. Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research, Brac University, Bangladesh. Nepal’s hydropower potential stands at 83,000 megawatts (MW), while Bhutan’s is at 40,000 MW and northeast India’s at 60,000 MW.


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Tags:  HydropowerEnergyRenewable EnergySustainabilityBangladeshBhutanIndiaNepal
 

February 2017
Hydropower Could Help Bhutan Economy Grow by 10.2%

Bhutan’s economy could grow by about 10.2% should the construction of planned hydropower projects proceed as scheduled. The projects are expected to create 6,500 jobs by 2020. The country has an estimated 24,00 MW hydropower potential and the Government of Bhutan has committed to developing hydropower in an environmentally responsible way.


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February 2017
Commentary: Connecting Asia's Growth Poles

Mr. Wencai Zhang, Asian Development Bank Vice President, discusses in this commentary how Asia’s growth poles will drive the global economy in the coming years, if South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia can dynamically integrate their economies. He emphasized the urgent need to synch strengths across sub-regions—by removing non-tariff barriers, strengthening connectivity, and building economic corridors—to help erase poverty in the region.


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Tags:  ADBMyanmarBangladeshConnectivityEconomic Corridor Development
 

January 2017
Nepal-India Oversight Mechanism Agrees to Expedite Project Implementation

The second meeting of the Nepal-India Oversight Mechanism, held on 30 January 2017 in Kathmandu, Nepal, reviewed progress of India-funded economic and development projects in Nepal, and agreed to expedite implementation of these projects for timely completion. Projects discussed included cross-border railways, integrated check posts, and cross-border transmission lines.


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Tags:  IndiaNepalRailHydropowerInfrastructureTransportEnergy
 

January 2017
Commentary: Need for Re-imagining Regional Cooperation

Limited cooperation and economic integration in South Asia continue to hinder its growth potential, despite being one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. In this commentary, Dr. Shamsul Alam, Member (Senior Secretary), General Economics Division, Planning Commission, Government of Bangladesh, argues for the need to think of pragmatic approaches and re-imagine regional cooperation in South Asia. He highlights the increasing commitment toward deepening regional ties—citing initia
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Tags:  ASEANBangladeshBhutanConnectivityIndiaEuropean UnionInfrastructure

 

January 2017
Export-Import Code, Latest Customs Reform and Modernization Action Plan to Help Boost Nepal Trade

On International Customs Day, the Nepal Department of Customs introduced the Export-Import code to enable electronic data interchange between Nepal Customs and India Customs, and presented the next phase of its Customs Reform and Modernization Strategies and Action Plan 2017-2021, which will implement measures expected to boost Nepal's foreign trade, and benefit Government and private-sector stakeholders.


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January 2017
Nepal Submits Instrument of Acceptance for Trade Facilitation Agreement

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) is getting closer to coming into force after Mr. Deepak Dhital, Nepal’s Ambassador to the WTO, submitted his country’s instrument of acceptance to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on 24 January 2017. Nepal is the 14th least developed country to ratify the TFA, which is expected to help reduce trade costs for WTO member countries.


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Tags:  NepalCustomsTrade Facilitation
 

January 2017
Railway Network Linking India and its Neighbors Under Consideration

A railway network linking India and its neighboring countries, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal, is being considered by the Government of India, according to India Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. Developing railway connectivity will increase employment, interaction, trade, and tourism.


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Tags:  IndiaRailBangladeshBhutanMyanmarNepalTradeTrade FacilitationTransportTourismEmployment
 

January 2017
Report Highlights How Cross-Border Electricity Trade Will Benefit India and Nepal

The Integrated Research and Action for Development initiative has launched the analytical study “Economic Benefits from Nepal-India Electricity Trade,” confirming that a large economically feasible electricity export potential exists. Electricity trade can help boost Nepal's economy and improve the well-being of its people, and offers India an affordable and convenient renewable resource to meet demand.


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Tags:  HydropowerNepalIndiaEnergy
 

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
 

January 2017
India to Sign Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods

India is set to join the Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR), or International Road Transport Convention in its bid to establish seamless trade connectivity with Southeast Asia and Eurasian countries. Through the TIR Convention, India could access Eurasia via the International North-South Transport Corridor. TIR would also give India an advantage in trade with fellow signatories of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement.


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Tags:  BangladeshBhutanIndiaNepalConnectivityCustomsEconomic corridorHarmonizationMotor Vehicles AgreementRoadRoadsTrade FacilitationTradeTransportBBIN
 

January 2017
Nepal Prepares to Implement the Customs Reform and Modernization Strategies and Action Plan 2017-2021

Nepal's Department of Customs is set to present the Customs Reform and Modernization Strategies and Action Plan (CRMSAP) 2017-2021 on 26 January 2017, International Customs Day. The CRMSAP 2017-2021 aims to implement provisions of the Revised Kyoto Convention, the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement, and the Single Window System.


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Tags:  NepalCustomsTrade FacilitationSingle Window
 

January 2017
Nepal Parliament Ratifies the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Nepal’s Parliament ratified the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) on 13 January 2017, drawing up the instrument of acceptance for the WTO TFA, whose implementation will help expand trade and attract foreign direct investment in Nepal by increasing transparency and effectiveness of the trading process.


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Tags:  NepalTrade FacilitationExportsCustomsFDILDCWTO
 

January 2017
Nepal Customs Officers Undergo Training at NACEN

The National Academy of Customs, Excise and Narcotics (NACEN) held a capacity-building program for 35 Customs Officers from Nepal. The 5-day program discussed various Customs-related topics, including Customs valuation; World Trade Organization provisions; Customs reform; and use of risk management.


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Tags:  IndiaNepalTrade FacilitationCustomsFree Trade AgreementRisk ManagementWTO
 

January 2017
Commentary: Hydro-powering Regional Development in India and Nepal

Transboundary rivers between India and Nepal have huge hydropower and irrigation potential. Developing these rivers can become an engine for regional development, alleviating poverty for millions of people within a reasonable timeframe. With improved relations between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal, formulating and implementing sustainable plans to manage these rivers presents a significant win-win opportunity for the subregion.


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Tags:  IndiaNepalHydropowerKosi RiverSustainabilityPoverty Reduction
 

January 2017
APTA Member Countries Move to Boost Trade in the Region

Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, South Korea, and Sri Lanka, member countries of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), moved to expand trade and boost growth in the region by agreeing to increase the number of products under preferential tariff treatment to 10,677 items from 4,270 at the 4th session of the APTA Ministerial Council.


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Tags:  Asia-PacificBangladeshDevelopmentRegional CooperationServicesSri LankaSustainabilityTariffsTradeTrade FacilitationUNESCAPIndia
 

January 2017
India Identifies Potential Location for Special Economic Zones in Bangladesh

India is set to undertake a number of projects in the city of Khulna, Bangladesh, including a planned Mongla Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for Indian companies. India is also offering to undertake joint projects with Bangladesh to modernize the Mongla sea port and to construct the Khan Jahan Ali Airport. Trade between India and Bangladesh has seen a substantial increase in the last few years.


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Tags:  BangladeshIndiaEconomic zone
 

January 2017
Nepal Upgrades Hydropower Plant with India’s Help

Nepal has upgraded the Thame Khola Small Hydropower Plant in Namche VDC, Solukhumbu District, raising the plant’s capacity from 630 kilowatts (kW) to 930 kW. India provided assistance of $54,500 for the upgrade. The facility supplies power to the upper Khumbu valley, including 18 villages of Khumjung and Namche VDC.


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Tags:  HydropowerNepalIndiaEnergy
 

January 2017
Sri Lanka Seeks to Attract Foreign Investment, Boost Exports

The Government of Sri Lanka aims to attract $50 billion in foreign investment in the next 5-10 years to help develop infrastructure, and boost exports to $20 billion by 2020. This year, Sri Lanka expects to sign free-trade deals with India, Singapore, and China.


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Tags:  Sri LankaExportsIndiaChinaFree Trade AgreementBIMSTECTourism
 

January 2017
Second India-Bhutan Joint Working Group on Customs Held in Thimphu

The Second India-Bhutan Joint Working Group on Customs highlighted the possibility of facilitating bilateral trade in select land Customs stations along Bhutan-India borders; and discussed streamlining Customs procedures and document requirements at entry and exit points. It also agreed to open three more trading points between Bhutan and India, and discussed issues including development of Goods and Service Tax in India.


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Tags:  IndiaBhutanCustomsTradeTrade FacilitationBilateral Agreement
 

January 2017
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka Discuss Bilateral Free Trade Deal

The new Bangladesh High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Mr. Riaz Hamidullah called on Sri Lanka Finance Minister, Mr. Ravi Karunanayake to discuss a potential Bangladesh-Sri Lanka free trade agreement. The Meeting emphasized benefits to be gained by both countries from this type of agreement.


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Tags:  BangladeshSri LankaTradeFree Trade Agreement
 

January 2017
Northeast Region Could Be India’s New Growth Engine

Through infrastructure improvements and policy reforms, Assam is becoming more investment friendly, prompting the possibility of Assam and the entire northeast India becoming the country’s new growth engine, according to Assam’s Chief Minister. The State is connected to all of India’s major cities through the East-West Corridor and is also set to improve connectivity with ASEAN and BIMSTEC countries through proposed road and rail projects.


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Tags:  Indiamanufacturing
 

January 2017
Greetings from SASEC

The South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Program wishes everyone peace, prosperity, and good health.


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Tags:  SASEC