India is a founding member of the SASEC Program, joining with Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal in 2001 to form this project-based partnership. Maldives and Sri Lanka became full members of SASEC in May 2014, following several years as active observers.

The country released its comprehensive national Strategy for New India @ 75, which defines growth objectives for 2022 and discusses policy recommendations in such areas as energy, infrastructure, and connectivity. The development strategy aims to help India achieve broad-based economic growth to ensure balanced development across all regions and states and across sectors.

SASEC Projects in India

Since 2002, the Government of India has signed 13 ADB-financed SASEC investment projects worth more than $5 billion.

India: SASEC Projects
Source: SASEC Project Portfolio, as of October 2019

Source: SASEC Project Portfolio, as of October 2019

In addition to the projects, ADB-financed technical assistance has supported SASEC investment projects in India, regional cooperation forums and knowledge-sharing initiatives, and pilot projects since 2001. A total of nine national technical assistance projects (cumulative worth around $10.28 million) have assisted India in project preparation, strategic planning, and capacity building.

Trade Snapshot

Direction of Intra-regional Trade

The value of India's merchandise exports and imports trade with other SASEC member countries, using International Monetary Fund data from 2020, is captured in the tables below.

India's top import source from the SASEC subregion is Bangladesh, with imported goods valued at over $1.2 billion. Sri Lanka follows closely, with imported goods valued at over $1 billion.

Bangladesh is India's 9th largest export market, with exports valued at over $8 billion. Nepal is India's 10th largest export market, with exported goods from India valued at over $7 billion.

India Trade in SASEC Subregion
Source: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics, as of October 2020

India Trade - Import

Source: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics, as of October 2020

India Trade - Export

Source: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics, as of October 2020

Ease of Doing Business

India climbed to 63 in rank in 2020 from 77 in 2019 by enacting the following reforms:

  • Starting a Business: India made starting a business easier in Delhi and Mumbai by abolishing filing fees for the incorporation form for new companies, electronic memorandum of association, and articles of association.
  • Trading across Borders: Mumbai and New Delhi made trading across borders easier by enabling post-clearance audits, integrating trade stakeholders in a single electronic platform, upgrading port infrastructures, and enhancing the electronic submission of documents.

India has also streamlined the process of getting construction permits and enacted reforms in resolving insolvency.

Source: Doing Business, accessed June 2020

Note: The World Bank/International Finance Corporation's annual flagship Doing Business Report measures the ease of doing business by ranking economies from 1 to 190, based on quantitative indicator sets that can be compared across economies and over time, with first place being the best and indicating a regulatory environment is conducive to business operation. Of immediate relevance to SASEC aims and goals are indicator sets on Starting a Business, and Trading across Borders.

Logistics Performance Index (LPI)

Of the SASEC member countries, India scored highest at 3.18 and a rank of 44. India's overall LPI score in 2018 is ahead of the South Asia regional average of 2.51. The country posted its best scores in timeliness (3.5), tracking and tracing (3.32), and international shipments (3.21).

India LPI 2016

Source: World Bank LPI (accessed December 2018)

Note: The LPI overall score reflects perceptions of a country's logistics based on six core dimensions: (i) efficiency of customs clearance process, (ii) quality of trade- and transport-related infrastructure, (iii) ease of arranging competitively priced shipments, (iv) quality of logistics services, (v) ability to track and trace consignments, and (vi) frequency with which shipments reach the consignee within the scheduled time. The scores for the six areas are averaged across all respondents and aggregated to a single score using principal components analysis. A higher score indicates better performance.

Economic Outlook

Asian Development Outlook

Lower domestic demand—due in part to weak agriculture and subdued rise in wages—slowed down growth in India in 2019. In 2020, gross domestic product (GDP) will decline to 4.0% due to the global health crisis. Inflation will decelerate with weaker demand and recover in 2021. Government initiatives and improved credit is expected to revive India's GDP in 2021.

Source: Asian Development Outlook 2020 (ADB)
South Asia Regional Update

GDP growth slowed to 6.8% in FY2018/2019 and will pick up to 7.2% in 2020. Core inflation is decelerating on slowing growth. Headline inflation averaged 3.4% in FY2019 and projected to rise to 3.6%. For FY2019/2020, the macroeconomic outlook is favorable subject to downside risks. Land, labor, and product market reforms, with higher infrastructure investment, would help support investment, productivity, and job-rich growth.

Source: South Asia Regional Update, August 2019 (IMF)