SASEC Investment Grows to $10.74 billion
31 December 2017
The SASEC Program ended 2017 on a high note, having launched the SASEC Vision, welcomed Myanmar as a full member of SASEC, invested almost $1 billion in three new projects during the year, and seen total program investment rise to $10.74 billion for 49 loan/grant projects.
The SASEC Vision, launched by Finance Ministers of the seven SASEC member countries in April 2017, paves the way for strengthened partnership, by demonstrating how regional cooperation that leverages opportunities and synergies between three levers—natural resources, industrial potential, and connectivity—can bring enormous benefits to the subregion.
Reflecting growth, the total cumulative SASEC program investment increased from $9.78 billion in 2016 for 46 projects to $10.74 billion in 2017 for 49 projects. Asian Development Bank (ADB) funding now totals $6.2 billion, and counterpart financing $4.5 billion.
Transport connectivity remains at the heart of the SASEC Program. In 2017, the Bangladesh: SASEC Dhaka-Northwest Corridor Road Project, Phase 2 - Tranche 1, worth $714 billion, was approved to improve the road connectivity and efficiency of the Dhaka-Northwest international trade corridor, the second busiest artery in Bangladesh, after the Dhaka-Chittagong road. In total, 32 transport projects worth $8.48 billion are working to enhance the subregion's physical connectivity through multimodal transport systems, and eliminate physical and nonphysical constraints to increase intra- and interregional trade, and strengthen economic cooperation.
SASEC trade facilitation investment, which complements SASEC transport connectivity initiatives by making cross-border trade and transport in the subregion faster, less costly, and more predictable, increased by $21 million in 2017, with the approval of the Nepal: SASEC Customs Reform and Modernization for Trade Facilitation. This project will expand and increase Nepal's export competitiveness by simplifying, harmonizing, and modernizing the country's trade processes. Current total investment for two SASEC trade facilitation projects amount to $69 million.
SASEC energy investment worth $1.48 billion continues to focus on developing essential energy infrastructure and promoting intra-regional power trade to help SASEC countries lower energy costs, improve regional energy security, and contribute to climate change mitigation.
The SASEC partnership, with the aim of bringing inclusive and transformational economic growth to the SASEC subregion, supported development of economic corridors in individual SASEC countries, and increased economic corridor development investment to $698 million from $484 million with the approval of the Nepal: Regional Urban Development Project. This project will improve the resilience and delivery of urban services and facilities in eight municipalities in the southern Terai region of Nepal bordering India, including four municipalities from the less-developed Province 7 in far western Nepal.
In 2018, guided by the SASEC Vision and the SASEC Operational Plan 2016-2025 , a total of 10 potential projects are in the pipeline for approval. These projects in transport, energy, and economic corridor development—regionally-oriented, and closely aligned with efforts of each SASEC member country—will add to the achievements of the SASEC partnership, and expand its scope as it continues to turn challenges into opportunities to promote regional prosperity, improve economic opportunities, and build a better quality of life for people of the seven SASEC member countries.