Meeting of the SASEC Nodal Officials and Working Groups
18 Mar 2019
The Meeting of the SASEC Nodal Officials and Working Groups for Transport and Trade Facilitation, and Energy was held on 18-19 March 2019 in Seoul, Republic of Korea to (i) review progress of ongoing and planned projects on transport, energy, and trade facilitation in the SASEC Operational Plan, 2016-2025; (ii) review possible new initiatives in the SASEC subregion, including the flagship initiative on SASEC tourism under the SASEC Vision document, and maritime cooperation; and (iii) hear views of selected development partners on SASEC projects and initiatives.
- Agreed to update the SASEC Operational Plan (OP) and identify and/or prioritize potential SASEC projects by (i) defining projects that will be part of SASEC transport and energy networks; (ii) taking stock of completed and/or ongoing projects; and (iii) identifying future projects based on analysis of gaps in the network base maps.
- Noted the progress of component transport projects in identified SASEC road and rail corridors, and key ports and airports, and endorsed, in principle, the proposed projects in the SASEC OP.
- Noted the progress of priority initiatives under the SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework, and endorsed, in principle, the planned trade facilitation projects in the SASEC OP according to the following operational priorities: simplifying trade processes and documentation, promoting automation of border agencies, strengthening national conformance bodies, developing through transport agreements, developing trade-related infrastructure, and capacity building.
- Discussed progress on the SASEC Vision flagship initiatives in energy, including (i) cross-border power trade, (ii) Bangladesh-India gas pipeline; and (iii) Sri Lanka as liquid petroleum gas (LPG) hub. The Meeting endorsed, in principle, the proposed projects and actions, as well as related initiatives, to be facilitated through the SASEC Cross-Border Power Trade Working Group and SASEC Regional Gas and Petroleum Working Group.
- Agreed on the way forward in advancing cooperation in the maritime sector in SASEC. The Meeting endorsed the proposed regional technical assistance to support maritime cooperation focusing on developing port community systems and addressing legal and regulatory issues, among others. The Meeting also discussed and provided comments on the interim report on the SASEC Vision flagship initiative study on promoting SASEC as a Tourist Destination.
- Confirmed the Asian Development Bank (ADB) SASEC investment pipeline for 2019-2021, which consists of 20 projects in transport, trade facilitation, and energy with a total loan/grant amount of $3.14 billion. These are all part of the SASEC OP pipeline with identified financing consisting of 77 projects costing about $46 billion.
Heads of Country Delegations chaired various sessions of the Meeting: Mr. Mohamed Iaad Hameed, State Minister of Ministry of Economic Development of the Government of Maldives (Opening Session); Ms. Fareeda Nasreen, Additional Secretary, Economic Relations Division of the Government of Bangladesh (Session 1: Transport); Mr. Wangchuk Thayey, Director General, Department of Revenue and Customs, Ministry of Finance of the Government of Bhutan (Session 2: Energy); Mr. Tun Tun Naing, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Planning and Finance of the Government of Myanmar (Session 4: Maritime Cooperation); Mr. Shreekrishna Nepal, Joint Secretary and Chief of International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division of the Government of Nepal (Session 5: Tourism); and Mr. S. Sanjaya Mudalige, Director General, Department of National Planning, Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs of the Government of Sri Lanka (Session 6: Statements by Development Partners), with Mr. Hun Kim, Director General, South Asia Department, as co-chair. ADB Senior officials, led by Secretaries and Joint Secretaries, from the Governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, ADB staff and consultants, and representatives from development partners, including Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency, New Development Bank, and World Bank, participated in the meeting.