News List

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

Year:
November 2017

Commentary: Not Yet Custom-Made

Trading across borders, a key component of a country's ease of doing business, can be quantified through a time release study (TRS). This commentary discusses the outcomes of a TRS conducted at the Jawaharlal Nehru Custom House (JNCH), which identified practices that will allow India to achieve the average release time of 72 hours, and proposed recommendations that the Customs department can lead going forward.

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November 2017

Speech: Accelerating RCI in Asia and the Pacific for Economic Growth, Shared Prosperity, and Sustainability

In his keynote address at the ADB Regional Cooperation and Integration Week, ADB President Takehiko Nakao stated that regional cooperation is critical to securing Asia’s economic future. He noted ADB’s continued commitment to support regional cooperation as a means to reduce inequality and overcome infrastructure gaps, and cited specific SASEC projects as effective examples. The ADB Regional Cooperation and Integration Week was held on 27-29 November 2017, in Manila, Philippines.

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Tags: ADB, ASEAN, Economic Corridor Development, Energy, Myanmar, Regional Cooperation, SASEC, Transport, World Bank, WTO

November 2017

Asia-Pacific Ministers Vow to Advance Regional Cooperation to Support SDG Agenda

At the Second Ministerial Conference on Regional Cooperation and Integration (RECI) organized by UNESCAP and ADB, government ministers and participants committed to support the implementation of the agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ministers said RECI should be consistent with the SDGs in contributing to social progress and environmental sustainability.

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Tags: ADB, Asia-Pacific, Energy, Regional Cooperation, Sustainable Development Goals, Trade Facilitation, Transport, UNESCAP

November 2017

Kolkata-Khulna Train Service Launched

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, jointly flagged off the Bandhan Express on 9 November 2017 via video conference. The new express service will contribute to closer links and mutual development between the two countries.

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November 2017

Nepal to Join BIMSTEC Energy Grid

Nepal has decided to join the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) grid interconnection, a move meant to help facilitate trade in electricity and take full advantage of available energy sources. Nepal is expected to sign an MOU to join the grid interconnection at the Third BIMSTEC Energy Ministers' Meeting.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, BIMSTEC, Energy, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Trade Facilitation

November 2017

Amending India’s Electricity Act Could Enhance Trade with SAARC Countries

An Asian Development Bank report suggests that a shift in India’s electricity policy could help address the acute electricity shortages faced by SAARC countries, which affects socioeconomic development as well as business operations. Policy amendments could help facilitate cross-border power trade among SAARC countries and give communities better access to electricity.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Energy, India, Maldives, Nepal, SAARC, Sri Lanka, Trade

November 2017

Report Calls for Speedy Implementation of Paperless Trade

Implementing paperless trade measures in Asia and the Pacific would reduce trade costs, raise competitiveness, and enable countries in the region to benefit from the digital economy, according to the Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation - Global Report 2017.

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Tags: ADB, ASEAN, Customs, Trade Facilitation Agreement, UNCTAD, UNESCAP, WTO

October 2017

Comprehensive Development Plan for Bangladesh Economic Corridor Submitted to the Government

The Asian Development Bank has submitted the Comprehensive Development Plan for the proposed Southwest Bangladesh Economic Corridor to the Government of Bangladesh. This strategic framework document will guide the efficient implementation of economic corridor projects, integrating industry, urban, infrastructure, and regulatory frameworks.

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October 2017

Inland Waterways to Spur BBIN Development

Completion of infrastructure to connect inland waterways of India and Bangladesh could ease movement between the two countries and make transport of freight to Nepal and Bhutan faster and less expensive. Opening inland waterways would make alternative modes of transport viable and could open up livelihood opportunities, helping facilitate trade in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal, according to experts attending a forum on subregional inland waterways.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Poverty Reduction, Sustainable Development Goals, Transport

October 2017

SASEC Program Switches to Mobile-Friendly Website with Improved Security

The new-look SASEC website is fully mobile-friendly and automatically adjusts to fit the screen you are using — computer, tablet, or mobile phone—making it a convenient choice for staying in touch with regional cooperation throughout South Asia. SASEC has also updated to HTTPS for enhanced cybersecurity and user privacy.

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Tags: SASEC, ICT, Regional Cooperation, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Maldives

October 2017

Groundbreaking Ceremony for Northern Bypass in Phuentsholing, Bhutan

A groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of the Northern Bypass construction in Phuentsholing, Bhutan, which includes the 2.7-kilometer bypass road and 120-meter bridge over Omchhu. The project is funded by the Asian Development Bank under the SASEC Program to improve Bhutan's regional connectivity, and open up access to better economic opportunities and social services.

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October 2017

ADB to Help Upgrade the Dhaka-Northwest International Trade Corridor

The Asian Development Bank has approved $1.2 billion financing support for the second phase upgrade of the Dhaka-Northwest international trade corridor, the second busiest artery in Bangladesh. Upgrading this corridor will improve access to the Burimari Land Port, which links Bangladesh to Bhutan through India, potentially increasing trade.

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Tags: ADB, Bangladesh, India

October 2017

SAARC Council of Experts of Energy Regulators Holds Second Meeting

The Second Meeting of the SAARC Council of Experts of Energy Regulators (CEERE) on 24-25 October 2017 discussed a road map for the implementation of the SAARC Framework Agreement on Energy Cooperation (Electricity), issues on power trade, including harmonization of grid code, operating procedures for cross-border power trade, and harmonizing electricity laws. Mr. Tariq Saddozai, Chairman, NEPRA, emphasized the need to increase cross-border electricity trade to help countries overcome energy c

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October 2017

Fourth India-Bangladesh JCC Meeting Discusses Progress of Key Bilateral Initiatives

Ms. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, India, and Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Foreign Minister, Bangladesh, co-chaired the Fourth India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) Meeting, reviewing progress on key initiatives and decisions in areas including trade and investment, security, connectivity, border management, power, energy, shipping, and people-to-people exchanges.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Connectivity, Energy, Hydropower, Trade, Investment

October 2017

CBEC Pilots Paperless Processing of Documents

India's Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) piloted paperless processing of documents in Chennai and New Delhi to promote the ease of doing business. CBEC's newest facility enables digitally signed supporting documents to be uploaded to further reduce clearance time.

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Tags: Trade, India, Customs

October 2017

India, Bangladesh, Nepal in Talks to Implement BBIN MVA

The Government of India has taken steps to implement the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA), coordinating with the Governments of Bangladesh and Nepal through the Ministry of External Affairs to enforce the transport agreement between and among themselves, reported Mr. Nitin Gadkari, Road Transport, Highways, and Shipping Minister, India.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Motor Vehicles Agreement, Transport

October 2017

Bangladesh, Nepal to Remove Trade Barriers

Bangladesh and Nepal have agreed to remove non-tariff barriers and para-tariff measures to help increase bilateral trade. At the second Foreign Office Consultation between Bangladesh and Nepal, the foreign secretaries of the two countries agreed to exchange trade delegations, organize trade fairs, and sign the Bilateral Trade Promotion and Protection Agreement.

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October 2017

SAARC Nations Can Achieve Sustainable Development Goals Together

Ms. Sumitra Mahajan, Speaker, Lok Sabha, India, said South Asian countries need to present a collective front to help the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Speaking at the Conference of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians, Ms. Majahan stressed the importance of interaction among the parliaments of SAARC countries and said that national parliaments need to focus on the SDGs.

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October 2017

Bangladesh, India Finance Ministers Sign Third LoC, Note Good Relations

Mr. Abul Maal A. Muhith, Finance Minister, Bangladesh, and Mr. Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister, India, signed the Third Line of Credit from India to Bangladesh worth $4.5 billion, to be used for implementation of projects in connectivity. Mr. Jaitley lauded the outstanding relations between the two neighbors after a meeting with Mr. Muhith.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Connectivity, Energy, Rail, Shipping, Road, Ports

October 2017

India Foreign Secretary Discusses Trade and Energy Cooperation with Bhutan Leaders

Mr. S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary, India, met with Bhutan top leaders to discuss trade and economic ties, energy cooperation, and the implementation of India-assisted projects in Bhutan.

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Tags: Bhutan, Energy, Hydropower, India, Trade

October 2017

Bangladesh-India Business Meeting Emphasizes Bilateral Trade Potential

The Bangladesh-India Business Meeting emphasized the immense prospects for bilateral investment and growth between Bangladesh and India. Mr. Tofail Ahmed, Commerce Minister, Bangladesh, urged India to take steps to reduce the trade deficit through removal of non-tariff and para-tariff barriers, improvement in facilities, mutual recognition of certificates and standards, and better connectivity.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Bilateral Trade

September 2017

Chamber of Commerce Formed to Increase Trade between India and Myanmar

India has formed the India-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce (IMCC) in Yangon to increase trade between the two countries, which currently stands at around $2 billion. IMCC intends to focus on helping Indian businesses invest in Myanmar and vice versa.

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Tags: Agriculture, Exports, Imports, India, Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Small and Medium Enterprises, Thailand, Trade, Transport

September 2017

ADB Blog: What Multimodal Parks Can Do for Logistics in India

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is currently conducting a pre-feasibility study to gauge the suitability of four multi-modal logistics park (MMLP) locations in India, and identify the requisite infrastructure, connectivity, and regulatory reforms. This commentary by Mr. Hoe Yun Jeong, Principal Economist (Regional Cooperation), South Asia Regional Department, ADB, highlights how MMLPs can help realize the country’s enormous economic potential.

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September 2017

New ADB Country Partnership Strategy to Accelerate India’s Transition to Upper Middle-income Status

The Asian Development Bank endorsed a new India Country Partnership Strategy 2018-2022 that ramps up annual lending support to a maximum of $4 billion a year to fast-track India's inclusive economic transition toward upper middle-income status. It focuses on three pillars: enhancing economic competitiveness, improving access to infrastructure and services, and addressing climate change and improving climate resilience.

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September 2017

Joint Steering Committee Discusses Additional Electricity Import from India to Bangladesh

The 13th Joint Steering Committee meeting between Bangladesh and India, held on 27-28 September 2017 in New Delhi, India, reviewed Bangladesh-India power sector cooperation, and explored new areas and opportunities, including the possible 840 megawatt (MW) additional electricity import from India to Bangladesh, and planned Bangladesh hydropower imports from Nepal and Bhutan.

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Tags: India, Bangladesh, Hydropower, Energy, Nepal, Bhutan

September 2017

Commentary: Boosting Business in the Bangladesh Corridor is Crucial to India's 'Act East' policy Carousel

This commentary by Mr. Sanjay Kathuria, Lead Economist and Coordinator, South Asia Regional Integration, World Bank Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, highlights how the growing cooperation between Bangladesh and India provides a glimpse into a more integrated South Asia.

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September 2017

Nepal Prime Minister Discusses Connectivity, Trade Enhancement with Bangladesh Prime Minister and Sri Lanka President

Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba met with heads of state of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, including Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Meeting in New York, USA. Prime Minister Deuba highlighted the need to continue deepening regional cooperation and connectivity, and host another SAARC Summit.

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September 2017

Trade Facilitation Center for Handicrafts Inaugurated in Varanasi

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Deendayal Hastkala Sankul, a trade facilitation center for handicrafts, at the Varanasi region. The Center aims to promote the products of regional artisans and weavers, and help integrate them into the global economy by linking them to domestic and international markets.

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September 2017

Freight Train Service to Run for Dhaka-Kolkata

The Governments of Bangladesh and India will launch a broad-gauge container train service between Dhaka, Bangladesh and Kolakata, India, to increase bilateral trade, currently running at about $6 billion. Trial runs are set to begin in October 2017.

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September 2017

BIMSTEC to Finalize Motors Vehicle and Coastal Shipping Agreements Soon

Mr. Prashant Agrawal, Indian Ministry of External Affairs' Joint Secretary, BIMSTEC and SAARC, said BIMSTEC countries are likely to finalize motor vehicle and coastal shipping agreements in the next few months. BIMSTEC member countries are negotiating framework agreements in regional cooperation in 14 areas, including trade, transport, energy, climate change, and poverty alleviation.

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Tags: BIMSTEC

September 2017

ADB Vice President: Regional Cooperation Can Help Bhutan Develop Full Potential

Mr. Wencai Zhang, Vice President, Asian Development Bank, encouraged the active participation of Bhutan in regional cooperation programs to enhance connectivity with its neighbors, facilitate trade, and boost tourism. Increasing connectivity with other countries in the region will benefit Bhutan's private sector by bringing in more foreign direct investment.

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September 2017

India Commerce and Industry Minister and ADB President Discuss Promotion of India's Manufacturing and Export

Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Commerce and Industry Minister, India, discussed ways to increase competitiveness of India's manufacturing and exports with Mr. Takehiko Nakao, President, Asian Development Bank (ADB). President Nakao emphasized India's potential to integrate with global value chains, with its abundant human resources, and the international growth of Indian businesses.

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September 2017

New Sri Lanka Foreign Affairs Minister Embarks on a 3-day Visit to India

Mr. Tilak Marapana, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka, and Ms. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, India, discussed India-Sri Lanka bilateral relations during Mr. Marapana’s three-day visit to India. He also paid a courtesy call to India Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Tags: Sri Lanka, India, Regional Cooperation

September 2017

RFID Technology Boosts Indian Port Productivity

Indian ports handled 273.96 million tons of cargo from April-August 2017 – 3.26% more cargo compared to the same period last year. According to the Government of India's Ministry of Shipping, newly-implemented technology, including radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging at ports, helped boost the Indian port performance.

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September 2017

India, Myanmar Pledge to Deepen Bilateral Relations

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook his first bilateral state visit to Myanmar. Both countries agreed to prioritize conclusion of a bilateral agreement enabling motor vehicle traffic across the border, and grow their bilateral trade and investment by improving market access through removal of all trade barriers.

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September 2017

Bangladesh Ports Upgrading with Container Scanners

The Bangladesh National Board of Revenue has taken steps to improve security and Customs efficiency in the country through installation of container scanning systems at the country's ports and border points. Scanners will enhance cargo inspection at Bangladesh's land port stations, sea ports, and inland container depots.

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September 2017

Bangladesh Commerce Minister: Bangladesh-Sri Lanka FTA to be Concluded by 2018

Mr. Tofail Ahmed, Commerce Minister, Bangladesh, called to expedite conclusion of the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to help increase the trade volume between the two countries. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka bilateral trade grew by 43% between 2012 to 2016.

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September 2017

Rangpur Chamber Highlights Need for Multimodal Connectivity between Nepal and Bangladesh

The Rangpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry emphasized the need for multimodal connectivity between Bangladesh and Nepal while meeting with a delegation from the Embassy of Nepal in Dhaka. Recommendations to facilitate smoother import/export included road expansion and port improvement.

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September 2017

Better Trade Facilitation to Reduce Trade Costs by Up to 9% Annually

Better trade facilitation, such as the simplification of export and import processes, could reduce trade costs by up to 9% in Asia and the Pacific, according to a report by ADB and UNESCAP. Trade Facilitation and Better Connectivity for an Inclusive Asia and Pacific highlights the benefits of promoting Customs improvement and regional cooperation, as well as efforts to improve trade facilitation by the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation and other subregional cooperation initiatives.&

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September 2017

Roundtable Urges Increased India-Myanmar Connectivity, Trade

A roundtable discussion held in Myanmar noted the need to substantially increase connectivity, trade and diplomatic relations between Myanmar and India. Officials from the two countries participated in the India-Myanmar Dialogue: Act East Policy and India-Myanmar Relations, held on 2 September 2017 in Yangon, Myanmar. The forum was organized by Parami Roundtable and Mizzima Media Group.

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Tags: ASEAN, BIMSTEC, Connectivity, India, Myanmar, Trade

August 2017

Colombo Port to Install New Container Scanning System

Sri Lanka Customs held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new container scanning system at Colombo Port. Four scanners, set to be fully operational within six months, will enable round-the-clock scanning. Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Mangala Samaraweera, Finance Minister, Sri Lanka, urged modernization of the prevailing Customs legislation to enhance the country's trade facilitation.

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Tags: Sri Lanka

August 2017

India, Nepal Agree to Develop Bridge over Mechi River, Harmonize Standards

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba witnessed the signing of eight MoUs between India and Nepal, including the implementation arrangement on cost sharing, schedules, and safeguards for construction of the bridge over the Mechi River; and agreement on cooperation in the field of standardization and conformity assessment.

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August 2017

Indian Businesses Urged to Invest in Nepal at Business Forum

Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba urged Indian investors to look at opportunities in Nepal at an India-Nepal Business Forum, highlighting gains in Nepal's governance, Nepal's duty-free access to the European market, and preferential market entry into the United States. On the same occasion, Ms. Bhawani Rana, President, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, urged governments of both countries to simplify trade procedures to boost regional trade.

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August 2017

Commentary: Overcoming NTBs for Exports to India

This commentary by Ms. Ferdaus Ara, Chief Executive Officer, Business Initiative Leading Development, examines the effect of non-tariff barriers to trade on Bangladesh-India exports by discussing the restriction on imports of tomato from Bangladesh. While exporting tomato from Bangladesh would benefit Indian consumers, policies in India, including the Plant Quarantine Order on Regulations of Import 2003, need to be amended.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Tariffs, Trade

August 2017

ADB, Korea EXIM Bank Hold Seminar on Colombo-Trincomalee Economic Corridor

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Korea EXIM Bank) held a seminar on the Colombo-Trincomalee Economic Corridor (CTEC) on 3 August 2017 to present the CTEC final policy consultation paper. The ADB-Knowledge Sharing Program joint consulting program was established to help strengthen Sri Lanka’s CTEC initiatives by providing practical knowledge, especially in foreign direct investment promotion.

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Tags: ADB

August 2017

The Future of e-Governance in South Asia

SASEC conceptualized the Information Highway Project to assist cooperation in the region and realize SASEC's goals of social and trade development. The project is being implemented in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal with the aim of making ICT more accessible to remote communities in these countries. It is expected to help SASEC countries increase their productivity and participate fully in the global information economy.

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Tags: SASEC, ICT

August 2017

Bangladesh to Export Bandwidth to Bhutan, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam

Bangladesh plans to export 102.5 gigabit per second of bandwidth to its neighbors, Bhutan, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Negotiations are ongoing to enable 2.5 Gb per second of bandwidth export to Bhutan through India’s Power Grid Corporation of India Limited's fiber optic cable.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, ICT, Trade

August 2017

Bangladesh Fast-Tracks Chittagong-Cox's Bazar Railway Project

The Government of Bangladesh is set to select two companies to construct a single-line dual-gauge railway track from Chittagong to Cox’s Bazar. The rail project is being fast-tracked by the Government and is scheduled to be completed by 2022. The new rail link will form part of the Trans-Asian Rail Route connecting Bangladesh and its neighbors, including China, Myanmar, and Thailand.

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August 2017

Nepal-Bound Containers to Have RFID Tags as Part of ADB Project

As part of an Asian Development Bank (ADB) project, container cargo from Visakhapatnam Port bound for Nepal and Bhutan will be equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to aid the tracking of cargo and prevent theft and tampering. The RFID system will be launched at Kolkata Port in September, after which it will be implemented at Visakhapatnam Port.

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August 2017

BIMSTEC Seeks Stronger Ties and Cooperation

The 18th session of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Senior Officials' Meeting and the 15th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting stressed the importance of cooperation in energy, technology, trade, and transport, through a revitalized, more integrated, and stronger BIMSTEC process. The Joint Statement underscored the need to finalize the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Agreement.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, Nepal, Bangladesh, Regional Cooperation, Energy, Technology, Trade, Transport, Free Trade Agreement

August 2017

Northeastern Indian Trade up to $22.6 Million

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said trade in India’s northeastern region has increased to $22.6 million. He was speaking at the 25th anniversary celebration conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India Dialogue Partnership, held in Ventiane, Lao PDR. He reiterated India’s commitment to deepen ties with ASEAN countries.

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Tags: India, ASEAN

August 2017

Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal to Set Up Energy Cooperation Network

Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, India, announced India's plans to set up an energy cooperation network with neighboring countries Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal. The network would pave the way for installation of huge pipelines that would carry diesel and liquefied petroleum gas to the mountainous northeastern states of India and the surrounding region.

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August 2017

Multimodal Logistics Parks to Increase India’s Logistics Competitiveness

India's Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and State Governments plan to develop a network of 35 multimodal logistics parks (MMLPs) across the country to support the Government's aim of bringing down logistics cost and increasing the country's manufacturing competitiveness. These MMLPs will complement planned economic corridors throughout India, serving as multimodal transport centers.

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August 2017

Bangladesh to Improve Four Land Ports Crucial to Trade with India

The Government of Bangladesh will develop four land ports as part of its initiatives to increase trade and commerce with India. Around $85.2 million was approved by Bangladesh's Executive National Economic Council to improve the Sheola, Bhomra, and Ramgarh land ports. Another project will be undertaken to modernize security at Benapole land port.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Ports, SASEC, Trade

August 2017

India Minister of State for Commerce and Industry: India and ASEAN Must Step-up Efforts to Increase Trade

Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, India, urged India and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to bolster efforts to increase bilateral trade and investment, and improve road and sea transport links. She urged a review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement to facilitate elimination of technical barriers to trade, and promoted transformation of the India-Southeast Asia transport corridors into economic corridors.

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Tags: India, ASEAN, Bilateral Agreement, Investments, Roads, Transport

August 2017

Paperless Trade to Enhance Bangladesh’s Competitiveness

A Validation Workshop assessed the impact of paperless trade facilitation in Bangladesh, including the costs of helping government and private sector agencies transition to a paperless system; and long-term costs needed to maintain the system effectively. Paperless trade will enhance Bangladesh's competitiveness in the global trade regime by reducing time and cost of trading across the border, and ensuring accountability and transparency.

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August 2017

Commentary: Blending Labor Advantage with High-tech Innovation

This commentary on the interim report for the Southwest Bangladesh Economic Corridor by Mr. M. Rokonuzzaman Ph.D, Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, North South University, Bangladesh, highlights the need for Bangladesh to boost its labor advantage with high-tech innovation to create high-paying jobs for millions of university graduates, ultimately driving the country toward its goal of achieving high-income status by 2041.

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Tags: ADB, Bangladesh, Economic Corridor Development

August 2017

Benapole-Petrapole ICP, Chittagong Port Launch 24/7 Operations

The ports of Benapole-Petrapole between Bangladesh and India, and Chittagong Port in Bangladesh, began round-the-clock operations on 1 August 2017. The move significantly reduces port congestion by easing clearance of import/export cargo.

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July 2017

New Agreement on Trade, Commerce, and Transit between India and Bhutan Comes into Force

The new Agreement on Trade, Commerce, and Transit between India and Bhutan has come into force beginning 29 July 2017. It provides for a free trade regime between the territories of India and Bhutan, and allows duty free transit of Bhutanese goods for trade with third countries.

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Tags: India, Bhutan, Trade, Free Trade Agreement, Transit Facilitation, Transport

July 2017

US Government's Millennium Challenge Corporation to Invest in South Asian Energy Connectivity

The Government of the United States' Millennium Challenge Corporation is finalizing a $500 million investment that will help facilitate Nepal's electricity trade with India. The MCC grant, with additional $130 million funding from the Government of Nepal, will finance construction of the second high-voltage cross-border transmission line on the Nepal side, 300 kilometers of high voltage power lines, and three large substations.

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July 2017

Commentary: Bangladesh – A Market for Sri Lankan Investors

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are working to increase their trade volume and diversify their products to promote more mutually-beneficial trade. This commentary by Mr. Amila Muthukutti, Sri Lankan economist and business writer, discusses market opportunities in Bangladesh for Sri Lankan investors, and highlights how a Free Trade Agreement will pave the way for strong trade relations.

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Tags: ADB, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Free Trade Agreement, Bilateral Trade

July 2017

Commentary: 25 years of ASEAN–India Integration

This commentary by Mr. Prabir De, Professor at the Research and Information System, discusses how far along the ASEAN–India partnership has come. As connectivity between India and ASEAN becomes a strategic focus to facilitate cross-regional production networks, India undertakes several initiatives to boost linkages including the India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway, supported by the India–Myanmar–Thailand Motor Vehicle Agreement. 

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July 2017

India Releases National Trade Facilitation Action Plan

The Government of India launched the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) on 21 July 2017, to align India's border procedures with international best practices and improve the country's Ease of Doing Business. The plan includes a time-bound roadmap containing 76 action plans reflecting the Government's commitment to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

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July 2017

Impact of Goods and Services Tax on Bhutan and Nepal’s Third Country Trade

Charges for different port and Customs services for Bhutan and Nepal’s third country trade through India will not be affected by Goods and Services Tax (GST), promised officials from India's Ministry of Commerce and Customs and the Central Board of Excise and Customs to officials of Nepal Department of Customs at an awareness-raising meeting on GST.

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July 2017

Bangladesh, Sri Lanka Business Leaders Look Forward to Trade Expansion

Business leaders from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka welcomed the move by their respective governments to expand bilateral trade and investment in a business-to-business dialogue held on the occasion of Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena’s visit to Bangladesh. The president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry noted the potential for business volume between the two nations to grow.

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July 2017

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka Ink 14 Deals for Cooperation

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka signed 14 instruments of cooperation following the bilateral meeting between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena in Dhaka, Bangladesh. These include the MoU on economic cooperation, and MoU on Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution and Sri Lanka Standards Institution.

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July 2017

SASEC Road Connectivity to Open Opportunities for MSMEs

India’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its approval for a $253,406,409 project to be implemented by the state-run National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation. The project, part of the SASEC Road Connectivity Investment Program, will upgrade and widen 65 kilometers of the Imphal-Moreh section of National Highway 39 in northeastern India.

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Tags: India, Road, SASEC, Small and Medium Enterprises, Transport

July 2017

Bangladesh, India to Pilot Cargo Railway Service

Bangladesh and India will pilot a freight train service between Dhaka and Kolkata in August, using the broad gauge railway connection from Gede, India, to Darshana, Bangladesh, to assess the feasibility of rail cargo services between the two countries. The trial run will also establish the safety of a loaded container train on the 5-kilometer (km) long Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge.

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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 Asia, ADB, India, Exports, Development

July 2017

SAARC Countries Urged to Focus on Removing Non-tariff Barriers

Mr. Younus Dagha, Federal Secretary of Commerce, Pakistan, has urged the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries to focus on removing non-tariff barriers to strengthen trade in the region. The region holds immense trade and investment potential, being home to 21% of the world's population.

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Tags: SAARC CCI, Investments, Trade, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India

July 2017

Bangladesh, Sri Lanka Shipping Companies Mull Container Feeder Service Joint Venture

The Bangladesh Shipping Corporation and Sri Lanka's Ceylon Shipping Corporation plan to launch a container feeder service joint venture to provide exporters, importers, and local coastal traders with a dependable and effective container feeder service option. The two companies are also exploring potential supply chain collaboration.

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July 2017

Government of Odisha, ADB Discuss Odisha Economic Corridor CDP

The Asian Development Bank and the Government of Odisha discussed the status and progress of the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) for the Odisha Economic Corridor. This is the third and final phase of the East Coast Economic Corridor studies, which will extend the corridor to the states of Odisha and West Bengal. 

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July 2017

ADB Finalizes the Chennai-Kanyakumari Industrial Corridor Report

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) submitted the draft final report of the Comprehensive Development Plan for the Chennai-Kanyakumari Industrial Corridor to the State Government of Tamil Nadu, India. The report highlighted the corridor’s goals of increasing the state’s manufacturing output to $222 billion by 2035, and generating over 3 million jobs; and identified key locations for developing the industrial nodes.

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July 2017

ADB to Help Nepal Modernize Trade Facilitation

The Asian Development Bank has approved a $21 million loan to support the Government of Nepal’s efforts to simplify, harmonize, and modernize the country’s trade processes, under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation. The program will help the country to promote and diversify exports, and help it fulfill its commitments to international customs standards.

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Tags: ADB, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Nepal

July 2017

India Calls for Raising Cross-border Trade with Bangladesh

Mr. Harsh Vardan Shringla, India's High Commissioner to Bangladesh, urged the business community to increase the volume of India-Bangladesh cross-border trade, noting how standards certification will boost trade for Bangladesh products.

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Tags: India, Bangladesh, Standards Harmonization, Trade

July 2017

Bangladesh to Purchase Hydropower from Nepal Company

The Government of Bangladesh and Nepal’s GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower Ltd. are now preparing to sign a power purchase agreement. GMR will be exporting 300 to 500 megawatts (MW) of energy generated by the Upper Karnali Hydroelectric Project in Nepal via India.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Energy

July 2017

Digitization of the ATA Carnet System Moves Forward

Digitization of the ATA Carnet system was emphasized at a meeting between the International Chamber of Commerce World Chambers Federation's eATA Steering Committee and the World Customs Organization eATA Working Group. Benefits include convenience in transaction facilitation, increased data security, claims prevention, and reduction in administration.

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July 2017

Commentary: Standards Need Continuous Updating

This commentary by Ms. Ferdaus Ara Begum, Chief Executive Officer, Business Initiative Leading Development, highlights the need to improve standards regulation to increase Bangladesh's competitiveness in the export-based manufacturing industry. Recommendations include raising capacity of the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute to meet global standards in food safety, and involving the private sector in standard setting consultations.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Standards Harmonization, Trade Facilitation, Sanitary and Phytosanitary, Technical Barriers to Trade, SARSO

June 2017

Commentary: Improving Regulatory Standards for Export Diversification

Products for export need to conform to given standards and undergo certain procedures before they are allowed entry into the importing country. In this commentary, Ms. Ferdaus Ara Begum, Chief Executive Officer, Business Initiative Leading Development, explains what exporters from Bangladesh need to do to understand these standards so they can expand their reach in India and other markets.

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Tags: Agriculture, Bangladesh, India, Standards Harmonization, Sanitary and Phytosanitary, Technical Barriers to Trade

June 2017

ADB to Increase Support for India's East Coast Economic Corridor

Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao told India’s leaders on 29 June 2017 that ADB is increasing support for developing economic corridors under the Make-in-India initiative, following ADB’s new country strategy for India for 2018-2022. Mr. Nakao said ADB is prepared to invest up to $5 billion during 2018-2022 to develop the East Coast Economic Corridor.

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June 2017

India Allows Export of Essential Agri Commodities to Maldives

The Government of India has allowed the export of select commodities to Maldives for 2017-2018 without any policy restrictions and prohibitions. India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade announced the decision to allow 19,466.36 tonnes of onions, 67,640.24 tonnes of rice, and other essential agricultural products under a bilateral trade agreement between India and Maldives.

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June 2017

Forum Emphasizes Importance of Cooperation in Regional Initiatives

A forum in Kathmandu, Nepal explored actions that will allow landlocked countries to take advantage of being "land-linked". Mr. Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director, CUTS International, underscored the importance of cooperation among the four countries to be able to move forward.

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Tags: Nepal, Regional Cooperation, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Infrastructure

June 2017

6th India-Myanmar Joint Trade Committee Meeting Focuses on Building Multimodal Connectivity

Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry (Independent Charge), India, sought active cooperation of India and Myanmar in improving multimodal connectivity to tap a huge bilateral trade potential. She noted the need to fast-track completion of the inland waterway linking Sittwe Port to the Myanmar hinterland, and move forward with the Motor Vehicle Agreement negotiation to facilitate seamless movement of cargo.

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June 2017

Commentary: South Asian Countries Building Connections

Mr. Prabir De, Professor at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, discusses how the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) subregional grouping’s focus to bridge connectivity gaps is crucial to reducing poverty in the region. He highlights the pressing need to begin implementing comprehensive trade facilitation and connectivity measures in the BBIN subregion, and remarks how success of the BBIN initiative is important to move broader regional integration initiative

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Tags: Connectivity, BBIN, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Energy, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal

June 2017

Groundbreaking Ceremony Marks Start of Phuentsholing Mini Dry Port Construction

A groundbreaking ceremony on 23 June 2017 initiated construction of the mini dry port in Phuentsholing, Bhutan. The project, costing around $2 million, is funded by an Asian Development Bank grant, with additional funding from the Government of Bhutan. This dry port will improve Bhutan’s logistics capability and augment its trade competitiveness.

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June 2017

Bangladesh to Ease Transshipment of Goods with Road Widening Project

The Bangladesh Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved a road widening project for the 51-kilometer road from Ashuganj River Port to Akhaura Land Port used by Bangladeshi exporters for transshipment of goods. The upgrade is a move to ease traffic and improve road safety.

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June 2017

ADB Releases the First Tranche of the SASEC Chittagong-Cox's Bazaar Railway Project

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Bangladesh have signed a $300 million loan agreement, the first tranche of the $1.5 billion SASEC Chittagong-Cox's Bazaar Railway Project. Set for completion in 2022, it will be linked to the Trans-Asian Railway route, provide for future direct connectivity toward India, Bhutan, and Nepal through the Indian Railway network, and help boost Cox’s Bazaar as a major tourist destination.

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June 2017

BBIN Intraregional Trade On the Rise

The International Trade Centre's Trade Map reports an increase in intraregional trade in the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) subregion in 2016, from $21.65 billion in 2015 to $23.52 billion. The ratio of BBIN intraregional trade to world trade went up from 2.98% in 2015 to 3.34% in 2016.

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Tags: BBIN, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Transport, Energy, Trade

June 2017

India Becomes Party to the United Nations TIR Convention

The Government of India ratified the United Nations TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) Convention on 19 June 2017, becoming the 71st country to accede to this worldwide Customs transit system, which has the widest geographical coverage. Accession promises to be a boon to India's trade, and contribute to an integrated economy with global and regional production networks.

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June 2017

Bangladesh, Sri Lanka to Hold Trade Talks in July

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will hold high level talks in July 2017 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to deepen trade and expand investment. Sri Lanka Minister of Industries and Commerce noted that while Sri Lankan exports to Bangladesh have tripled since 2010, Sri Lanka wants to explore many untapped bilateral opportunities to further boost trade growth.

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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 Asia, BBIN, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Energy, Hydropower

June 2017

Economic Corridor to Propel Industrial Growth in Bangladesh’s Southwest Region

The interim report on the Southwest Bangladesh Economic Corridor (SWBEC), submitted by the Asian Development Bank to the Government of Bangladesh on 13 June 2017, envisages huge economic gains for Bangladesh.

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June 2017

Nepal-Bangladesh Youth Meet on Promoting Bilateral Trade

The Nepal-Bangladesh Youth Conference 2017 was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, to discuss possible ways to increase bilateral trade between Nepal and Bangladesh. The environment and the economic and business sectors were among the topics tackled at the conference.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Nepal, BBIN, Regional Cooperation, Trade Facilitation

June 2017

State Counselor Suu Kyi Pledges Myanmar Participation in BIMSTEC Integration

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has pledged to support the integration of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) region to help accelerate economic growth and social progress among BIMSTEC member countries. The message was issued to mark BIMSTEC’s 20th anniversary.

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June 2017

India Proposes Regional Air Connectivity Scheme among BIMSTEC Countries

The Government of India has proposed application of its "Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik" (UDAN) or "Common People of the Country can Fly" policy among member countries of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). An enabling regional connectivity policy could help attract high value economic agents, business travelers, and tourists.

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Tags: India, BIMSTEC, Transport, Connectivity, Bhutan, Myanmar, Regional Cooperation

June 2017

New Border Haat to be Built in Tripura

The India-Bangladesh Border Haat Management Committee met for the first time to finalize the lineup of vendors for a border haat set to rise in Dhalai district, Tripura, India. The committee has selected Kamalpur, Dhalai, as the site for the new border haat.

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June 2017

Electronic Cargo Tracking System to Improve India-Nepal Cargo Traffic and Security

An electronic tracking system will soon ease traffic-in-transit for cargo traveling by road and rail from Kolkata to four major Customs points of Nepal, including the Raxaul route. Mr. Sandeep Kumar, Customs Commissioner, India, and Mr. Rabi Shanker Sainju, Commerce Ministry Joint Secretary, Nepal, signed a memorandum of intent to pilot the tracking system for a trial period of at least 90 days in late 2017.

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Tags: Electronic Cargo Tracking System, ADB, SASEC, Nepal, India, BBIN, Customs, Road, Rail, Transport

June 2017

Tokyo Conference: South Asia Needs to Accelerate Connectivity to Boost Growth

Mr. Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh, emphasized the importance of regional connectivity for South Asia to reap the benefits of being the world's fastest growing region. He called for stronger cooperation among member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to connect the region's markets, and take advantage of a young demographic dividend.

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June 2017

Two SASEC Trade Corridors in Pre-construction

Two economic corridors being developed under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) are now in the pre-construction stage. The economic corridors would improve international trade and connectivity among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal.

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May 2017

ADB Blog: 6 Ways Asian Economic Cooperation is Changing the Region

Economic transformations have accelerated regional cooperation and integration in Asia. In this ADB blog post, Mr. Cuong Minh Nguyen, Principal Regional Integration Specialist, Southeast Asia Department, ADB, discusses six paradigm shifts that are reshaping economic prospects in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and other parts of the region. It also highlights the need for governments to work together to build a socially inclusive, environmentally friendly, and economically sustainable region.

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Tags: ASEAN, SAARC, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Energy, Regional Cooperation

May 2017

India to Link Meghalaya-Myanmar, Boost Waterway Transit

The Government of India plans to begin construction of the highway connecting Meghalaya to Myanmar in June 2017, according to the Ministry of Road Transport, Highways, and Shipping, India. India also plans to boost waterway transit for more cost-effective transport of goods, and is considering waterway connectivity between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

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Tags: Transport, India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia

May 2017

Building Stronger Cooperation with BIMSTEC

The Secretary General of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) advised member countries to look at regional cooperation in a pragmatic way, with efforts to build regional cooperation focusing on achieving practical results, at the conference marking BIMSTEC’s 20th anniversary.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Connectivity, Regional Cooperation

May 2017

India Drafts Cross-border Energy Trade Framework

India's Ministry of Power is preparing a set of guidelines for cross-border trade of electricity, with draft regulations from the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. This will regulate cross-border energy trade between India and Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal, by creating a uniform framework.

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Tags: India, Energy, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal

May 2017

Regional Cooperation Initiatives to Bolster Greater Male Region Development

Mr. Wencai Zhang, Vice President, Asian Development Bank (ADB), encouraged the active participation of Maldives in regional cooperation programs, in his two-day visit to Male, Maldives. ADB plans to increase support for Maldives in 2018-2019 through its indicative investment program that focuses on developing the Greater Male region, and also includes the SASEC National Window Project.

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Tags: Regional Cooperation, Maldives, Trade Facilitation, Single Window, ADB

May 2017

India, Bangladesh to Gradually Remove NTBs

Mr. Harsh Vardan Shringla, India's High Commissioner to Bangladesh reiterated India's commitment to remove non-tariff barriers (NTBs) through the standard-setting bodies of India and Bangladesh. The Bureau of Indian Standards and the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution have begun cooperating on certification of goods, to resolve NTB-related export restrictions.

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Tags: Regional Cooperation, India, Bangladesh, Trade Facilitation, Standards Harmonization

May 2017

Former FBCCI President: Bangladesh-India Relations Better Now than Any Time in the Past

Mr. Abdul Matlub Ahmad, former President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, expressed confidence in the business relationship between Bangladesh and India, saying it is better right now than any time in the past. He encouraged the trade and business community to utilize the friendship between the two countries to promote development.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Private Sector, Trade Facilitation, Exports

May 2017

ADB Awards SASEC Rail Project among Best Performing Projects in Bangladesh

The SASEC Railway Connectivity Akhaura-Laksam Double Track Project implemented by Bangladesh Railway was recognized as one of ADB’s best performing projects in Bangladesh. The project aims to reduce transport costs, improve logistics along strategic corridors, and enhance inclusiveness of railway services by building inclusive facilities.

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May 2017

SAARC Market Holds $24.65 Billion Potential for Bangladesh

Bangladesh export to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region could reach $24.65 billion by 2020, according to the UNESCAP report "Unlocking the Potential of Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration in South Asia." Bangladesh’s unexploited potential for exports to SAARC region is estimated at 93%.

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May 2017

Sri Lanka Makes Big Push for Renewable Energy

Of Sri Lanka’s 4,000 megawatts (MW) installed electrical capacity, the country generates 550 MW from wind and solar energy sources. By pushing to increase its renewable energy capacity and exploring the possibility of building undersea power cables, Sri Lanka could open the doors to mutually beneficial energy trade with India.

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May 2017

SAARC Collaboration Urged to Attract Foreign Direct Investment

The Minister of Industry and Commerce for Sri Lanka, Mr. Rishad Bathiudeen, urged collaboration among SAARC member countries to encourage inflows of foreign direct investment during a press briefing for the SAARC Investment Forum and Trade Fair scheduled for 6-9 September 2017 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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May 2017

India Begins Work on Myanmar Road for IMT Trilateral Highway

India's National Highways Authority has begun upgrading the 120-kilometer Kalewa-Yargi road in Myanmar's Sagaing region. It will connect to Tamu, Myanmar, which links to Moreh, India, through a 130-km stretch of road. These roads are part of the of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, which runs from Moreh to Mae Sot (Thailand), passing through Myanmar.

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May 2017

WTO Trade Facilitation Committee Convenes First Meeting in Geneva

The WTO Committee on Trade Facilitation met for the first time on 16 May 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee was formed to oversee the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and is tasked to provide a forum for WTO member countries to consult on operationalizing the TFA.

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May 2017

Need to Improve Bangladesh-India Port Services Highlighted by IBCCI

A delegation of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) met with Mr. Shajahan Khan, Shipping Minister, Bangladesh, to discuss trade bottlenecks in Bangladesh-India land ports. Infrastructural and administrative bottlenecks in land and sea ports of Bangladesh and India slows down the trade process. Long delays for trucks to pass through Customs, for example, results in shortages of warehouses and trucks, and skyrocketing prices in truck rentals.

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Tags: India, Bangladesh, Trade Facilitation, Transport

May 2017

ADB Finalizing the Bangladesh-Southwest Economic Corridor Development Study Report

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is finalizing a study report on the Bangladesh-Southwest Economic Corridor Development for the Government of Bangladesh. The Study considers Bangladesh’s industrial development plans, and examines the challenges, supply chain issues, and policy constraints faced by the country's industry sector. It also includes recommendations on improving Bangladesh's regional connectivity through a multimodal economic corridor.

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May 2017

"Advancing BBIN Subregional Cooperation" Focuses on Subregional Trade and Investment

A conference organized by the Delhi Policy Group on 14 May 2017, discussed how to improve the trade and investment environment in the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) subregion. Mr. Selim Reihan, Economics Professor, Dhaka University, and Executive Director, South Asian Network on Economic Modeling, a panelist, puts forward that BBIN should work on expanding trade in goods and services as a formal regional platform under the World Trade Organization to prompt tariff liberalization.

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May 2017

At the Haat of a Border

The border "haats" (rural markets) have become an additional means of livelihood for vendors from select border areas of Bangladesh and India, as well as helping. The haats have also allowed people from both countries to meet. This feature, which originally appeared in the Hindu, provides a closer look at the impact of the border haats to the lives of traders and consumers at the border.

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May 2017

Watch: Powering Asia in the 21st Century

The SASEC Vision lays out opportunities through industry linkages and regional trade:

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Tags: SASEC 2025, Regional Cooperation, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Energy, Economic Corridor Development

May 2017

ADB Blog: India's First Coastal Corridor to Drive Manufacturing, Growth

The Government of India is promoting economic corridors to help unlock India's manufacturing potential. The ECEC will connect India's long eastern coastline and strategically located ports to multiple international gateways. In this ADB blog post, Mr. Hoe Yun Jeong, Principal Economist (Regional Cooperation), South Asia Regional Department, ADB, shares how the ECEC can contribute to South Asia's prosperity by stimulating growth in India, and contributing to a regional corridor in Asia.

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May 2017

Bhutan’s National Council Passes the Indo-Bhutan Trade Commerce, and Transit Agreement

The National Council of Bhutan endorsed the Indo-Bhutan Trade, Commerce, and Transit Agreement on 12 May 2017, benefiting both countries by promoting a free trade regime, duty free transit of Bhutanese merchandise for trade with third countries through Indian ports; and additional entry/exit points for Bhutan's trade with other countries. It also promotes periodic exchange of trade data.

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May 2017

India PM Modi Announces Direct Colombo-Varanasi Flights

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Air India will fly direct between Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Varanasi, India, beginning August 2017. He added that India and Sri Lanka plan to strengthen economic ties and cooperate on connectivity, transport, and energy.

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May 2017

India to Make Northeast a Gateway to Southeast Asia

The Government of India has initiated major infrastructure projects in seven states in its bid to make the northeastern region a gateway to Southeast Asia, according to India Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India is investing INR 40,000 crore ($6.2 billion) to improve roads and highways in the region.

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May 2017

SAARC Finance Ministers Meet in Yokohama, Japan

Finance ministers and senior officials of member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka met on 5 May at Yokohama, Japan, at the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) 50th Annual General Meeting.

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Tags: ADB, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Central Asia, Climate Change, Energy, India, Maldives, Nepal, Policy, Regional Cooperation, SAARC, SASEC, Sri Lanka, Trade, Transport

May 2017

New India Investment Agreements Take Holistic Approach to Spur Infrastructure Growth

India has signed investment agreements worth $31 million at the Integrated Transport and Logistics Summit in New Delhi, India. The agreements form part of the Government of India’s holistic approach to spur infrastructure growth, according to Mr. Nitin Gadkari, Road Transport and Shipping Minister, India.

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Tags: India, Transport, Shipping

May 2017

Bangladesh, India, Nepal to Redraw BBIN MVA

The Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) will be redrawn by Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, following Bhutan's agreement for the three countries to proceed with its implementation. In June 2017, the BBIN working group will meet to redesign the routes.

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May 2017

ADB Blog: How to Bring about the Asian Century

Asian countries need to adjust their growth models to adapt to sluggish demand for Asian exports by relying more on domestic demand and intraregional trade to deliver the growth they need. In this ADB blog post, Mr. Juzhong Zhuang, Deputy Chief Economist and Deputy Director General, Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, ADB, proposes bold approaches to secure growth through priority areas including closing the infrastructure gap and increasing use of renewable energy.

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May 2017

India’s Union Cabinet Approves Third Line of Credit to Bangladesh

India’s Union Cabinet, chaired by India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given ex post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the third line of credit of $4.5 billion to Bangladesh. This MoU aims to support development of infrastructure in Bangladesh.

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April 2017

India, Sri Lanka Sign MoU for Cooperation in Economic Projects

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited India on 25-29 April 2017, for discussion with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a range of bilateral issues and matters of mutual interest. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe welcomed the signing of the MoU for Cooperation in Economic Projects, which outlines the agenda for bilateral economic cooperation.

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Tags: India, Sri Lanka, Infrastructure, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Transport

April 2017

South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Vision: Powering Asia in the 21st Century

SASEC Powering Asia in the 21st Century defines the SASEC Vision, setting the SASEC partnership on a path to help transform the subregion into Asia’s powerhouse in the 21st century. The Vision steps up cooperation among SASEC member countries, guiding them how to transform transport corridors into industrial and economic corridors, and promoting sustainable economic growth by generating synergies among SASEC member countries.

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April 2017

Bhutan Gives Go Ahead for BBIN MVA to Proceed

The Government of Bhutan gave consent for entry into force of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, while it completes its internal procedures for ratification by addressing concerns raised by local stakeholders. This gives the three other participating countries permission to proceed with early implementation.

 

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April 2017

Korea EXIM Bank, ADB Collaborate with the Government of Sri Lanka on the Colombo-Trincomalee Economic Corridor

The Export-Import Bank of Korea signed an aide memoire with the Government of Sri Lanka and the Asian Development Bank, officially launching the Joint Consulting of the ADB and the Knowledge Sharing Program of the Government of the Republic of Korea in drawing up a blueprint for the Colombo-Trincomalee Economic Corridor (CTEC). This collaboration will enhance implementation of the CTEC development plan by bringing in best practices and lessons learned from economic corridor development projec

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April 2017

Bangladesh and Bhutan Strengthen Ties during Prime Minister Hasina's Visit

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's third state visit to Bhutan affirmed friendly bilateral relations between the two countries. Her meeting with Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay noted progress in cooperation on various sectors, including expanding Bangladesh exports to Bhutan and trilateral MoU with India on hydropower trade. Six MoUs were signed, including cooperation between their standard-setting bureaus.

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April 2017

India Cabinet Approves Signing of BIMSTEC Power Grid Pact

India's Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the ratification of the MOU for the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection. The MOU is expected to be signed at the next BIMSTEC Energy Minsters' Meeting and provides a broad framework for energy trade among BIMSTEC member countries.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Connectivity, Energy, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand

April 2017

Contract Award for Phuentsholing Mini Dry Port

The design and build contract for the mini dry port project in Phuentsholing, Bhutan was awarded to M/S Marushin Shitaka at a cost of around $212 million, with target completion in 20 months. With Asian Development Bank loan/grant funding under the SASEC Road Connectivity Project, the mini dry port will help facilitate Bhutan's cross border trade, clearing Customs congestion.

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April 2017

Nepal President Embarks on India State Visit

Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari embarked on a five-day visit to India, at the invitation of India President Pranab Mukherjee. President Bhandari expressed confidence in strengthening India-Nepal bilateral ties, while President Mukherjee urged Nepal and India to build on their many complementarities, reaffirming India's commitment to bilateral cooperation, and expressing hope of advancing the region's common interests through regional and subregional cooperation.

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April 2017

Commentary: Standards in GVC and Bangladesh

This commentary brings to light the importance of a regional standard-setting body, such as the South Asian Regional Standards Organization, in strengthening the position of least developed countries, including Bangladesh, when it comes to negotiating standards for global value chains (GVC).

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April 2017

Nepal-India Oversight Mechanism Reaffirms Commitment to Timely Project Implementation

The Governments of India and Nepal held the Third Meeting of the Nepal-India Oversight Mechanism to review progress made in economic and development cooperation projects between Nepal and India. The meeting discussed cross-border rail projects, integrated check posts, cross-border transmission lines, hydropower projects, postal roads, line-of-credit projects, and reconstruction projects, highlighting the importance of early project completion.

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April 2017

Connectivity Needed for BIMSTEC to Succeed

The BIMSTEC region hosts 21% of the world’s population and holds great potential for trade. Experts at the Conference on Facilitating Connectivity in Bay of Bengal Region held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, stressed the importance of regional connectivity for BIMSTEC to succeed and to facilitate economic growth among BIMSTEC member countries.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, ASEAN, SAARC, Regional Cooperation, Cooperation, Bangladesh

April 2017

Private Sector Commitments Promise to Boost Bangladesh Energy Security

Private sector representatives from India and Bangladesh have promised to boost Bangladesh's energy security by signing preliminary agreements worth $9 billion in the presence of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. An additional 60 megawatts of power will be supplied to Bangladesh from Tripura, India.

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April 2017

Bangladesh and India Take Relations to New Heights

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi heralded a golden era in Bangladesh-India bilateral relations during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's state visit to India on 7-10 April 2017. He announced a new concessional line of credit worth $4.5 billion for Bangladesh to support infrastructure development, including ports, airports, and power transmission lines. A total of 22 memoranda of understanding were signed during Prime Minister Hasina's four-day visit.

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April 2017

New Bangladesh-India Rail, Bus Services to Ramp Up Connectivity

New rail and bus services between India and Bangladesh have been launched by India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ramping up connectivity between the two countries. Prime Minister Modi emphasized the importance of connectivity to the success of Bangladesh-India bilateral development partnership, subregional economic projects, and larger regional economic prosperity.

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April 2017

Finance Ministers Chart Strategic Road Map with SASEC Vision 2025

SASEC finance ministers met in New Delhi to launch the SASEC Vision, a new strategic road map to guide the subregion's development through 2025. The vision is expected to guide Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka in developing gateways to expand trade and commerce, which could help create 20 million jobs and accelerate growth in the region.

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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: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Economic Corridor Development, Energy, ICT, India, Nepal, Maldives, Myanmar, SASEC, South Asia, Sri Lanka, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Regional Cooperation

April 2017

Joint Ministerial Statement of the SASEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting

The SASEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi launched the SASEC Vision development road map. This joint statement issued by the finance ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka lays out how countries will be working to accelerate growth in the region, create jobs, and help the people of South Asia gain better access to social services.

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April 2017

India Finance Minister Welcomes Myanmar as new SASEC Member

Mr. Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister, India, welcomed Myanmar as a new member of the SASEC partnership. "We welcome Myanmar as newest member, to play a key role in linking South Asia with Southeast and East Asia," said Mr. Jaitley. Myanmar is expected to play a vital role in expanding connectivity and economic cooperation between South Asia and Southeast Asia.

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April 2017

India’s Act East Policy Will Strengthen Connectivity in Southeast and East Asia

India’s Act East Policy will help improve connectivity among countries in Southeast and East Asia, said Mr. Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister, India. He noted projects to connect trade routes to India’s neighbors and explained how regional power trade would help SASEC member countries achieve energy security.

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Tags: India, Act East Policy, Bangladesh

March 2017

ADB Blog: SASEC's New Vision to Transform Subregion

Endorsement of the new SASEC Vision statement by Finance Ministers of SASEC member countries will transform it from a simple blueprint into an engine driving an annual estimated $70 billion in additional subregional gross domestic product by 2025. Mr. Hun Kim, Director General, South Asia Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB), highlights how the SASEC Vision will help take the SASEC partnership to another level of economic growth.

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March 2017

Electronic Cargo Tracking System to Facilitate India-Nepal Cargo Movement

India and Nepal are set to sign a memorandum of intent on a pilot run for the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS). The pilot run aims to demonstrate the benefits of ECTS in moving cargo belonging to Nepal, from the port of arrival in India to Nepal. Results of this pilot run will inform decision and next steps in using ECTS in other SASEC transport and economic corridors, as well as for inland movement of cargo.

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March 2017

Promoting Sri Lanka’s Export Goods to BRICS Countries

The BRICS Chamber of Commerce and Industry participated in a trade and investment promotion for Sri Lanka’s export products, organized by the High Commission of Sri Lanka in India. The High Commissioner highlighted the country's focus on economic diplomacy, and encouraged investors and businesses from India and BRICS member countries to explore business opportunities in Sri Lanka.

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March 2017

ADB to Prepare Development Plan for India's East Coast Economic Corridor

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will prepare the feasibility study and conceptual development plan for India’s East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC), in close collaboration with the Government. The joint work of ADB and India on the ECEC has led to useful lessons on economic corridor development.

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March 2017

Bangladesh, Bhutan Commerce Secretaries Discuss Trade Promotion

The Commerce Secretaries of the Government of Bhutan and the Government of Bangladesh met on 23-24 March 2017 in Thimphu, Bhutan, to discuss the promotion of trade and commerce. The Secretaries agreed to negotiate an inland water transit protocol, and initiate a memorandum of understanding for mutual recognition of standards and classifications.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Standards Harmonization, Trade, Transport

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: SASEC, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Regional Cooperation, Trade, Economic cooperation

March 2017

Nepal Government Ministries Urged to Collaborate to Manage Widening Export Gap

Low exports and rising imports are causing exponential growth in Nepal's trade deficit, according to Nepal’s Minister of Commerce, and he urged ministries, agencies, and the private sector to collaborate to bridge Nepal's widening export gap. The Ministry of Commerce has prioritized initiatives to promote Nepal's productive capacity.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Trade

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 Operators, ICT, India, Employment, Jobs, Services, South Asia, Tariffs, Technology, Trade Facilitation, Trade Facilitation Agreement, Trade Policy, WTO

March 2017

Commentary: Development of Ports and Transportation for Trade Facilitation

Trade facilitation that ensures fast and safe transportation of goods directly affects economic growth in Bangladesh. Mr. Md Shafiqul Islam, former Secretary to the Government of Bangladesh, writes about how ports and economic corridors, by facilitating international trade, play a pivotal role in strengthening the economy. He also discusses the need to frame long-term and comprehensive action plans that could be used to shape policies on efficient port operation and management.

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March 2017

India-Myanmar Border "Haats" Performing Well

Informal trading in the Northeast region's border 'haats' (rural markets) between India and Myanmar is doing very well, reported Mr. Najib Shah, Chairman of India's Central Board of Excise and Customs. The Government of India is considering opening more border haats to promote trade ties with its neighbors.

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Tags: India, Myanmar, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Connectivity

March 2017

India Moves Ahead with Multi-Modal Transport Connectivity Plan

India approved the signing of the Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR, or International Road Transport) Convention on 6 March 2017. The approval takes India forward in its bid to establish seamless trade connectivity with Southeast Asian and Eurasian countries, and harmonize its transport with global standards. India will be the 71st signatory of the multilateral transit treaty.

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March 2017

BIMSTEC Roundtable Stresses Need to Resolve Border-Related Trade Barriers

The Eighth BIMSTEC Roundtable Meeting tackled “Rewriting the Rulebook of Regional Connectivity,” emphasizing the need to resolve border-related trade barriers through coordination of government policies across Asia, including Customs procedures and clearance of goods, to unlock the vibrancy of the Asian Highway and reduce the cost of doing business.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, Trade, Customs, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, ICT, Nepal, Transport, Ease of Doing Business

March 2017

India to Demo Freight Train from Dhaka to Istanbul

Indian Railways plans to conduct a freight train trial run through the Dhaka-Kolkata-Delhi-Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul railway route. The route is part of the Trans-Asian Railway Southern Corridor, a 6,000-kilometer section of the Trans-Asian Railway network, which aims to promote cultural exchanges and trade within Asia, and between Asia and Europe.

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March 2017

India Ready to Invest in Nepal Hydropower

India is committed to being Nepal’s development partner, according to Mr. Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister, India. Speaking at the Nepal Investment Summit, Mr. Jaitley pledged more Indian investment in Nepal hydropower and rail network, as well as in transmission lines, roads and bridges, irrigation, health, and education.

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March 2017

SASEC Roads Development in Bangladesh on Track

A delegation from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development was in Bangladesh to review progress of two of its development projects. Work for both the Sikalbaha Power Station and the SASEC Road Connectivity Project are proceeding as planned. Road development and transportation infrastructure works under the SASEC Road Connectivity Project began in March 2016 and are now 22% complete.

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March 2017

Three Common Standards for SAARC Finalized

Three common standards—Biscuits Specification, Refined Sugar Specification, and Code of Hygienic Practice for Dairy Industry—for the SAARC region were approved at the South Asian Regional Standards Organization's (SARSO) Fifth Governing Body Meeting. These common standards will help reduce SAARC intra-regional trade costs. According to SARSO Director General, Dr. Syed Humayun Kabir, member countries' national standardization bodies will be in charge of their implementation.

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Tags: SAARC, SARSO, Bangladesh, Standards Harmonization

March 2017

International River Port to be Developed in Tripura

India's Ministry of Shipping will set up an international river port in Sonamura, connecting Gomati River in Tripura, in India's northeast, with Meghna river in Bangladesh. India’s Inland Waterways Authority approved the proposal to enable small ferries and boats to transport goods through river transit, according to Minister of State for Industries and Commerce.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Transport

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: Trade, Development, Employment, Globalization, Trade Facilitation, Protectionism

February 2017

India-Myanmar Trade Increases to $22 Million

Bilateral trade between India and Myanmar increased from nearly $11.9 million in 2013-2014 to around $22.2 million in 2015-2016, according to India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry. India's Act East Policy was instrumental in promoting trade growth between the two countries, deepening economic cooperation and expanding trade through India's Northeast region.

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Tags: Act East Policy, India, Myanmar, Trade, Transport

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: Customs, India, Services, Trade Facilitation Agreement, Transparency, Transport, WTO

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: ADB, Economic corridor, India, Act East Policy, Make in India, manufacturing

February 2017

Commentary: An Emergent Urgency for Bangladesh

Good connectivity reduces the cost of doing business and increases the competitive strengths of trading partners. In this commentary, Dr. Mustafizur Rahman, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue, highlights how a sanitary and phytosanitary agreement and an effective Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement would promote South Asian integration and step up Asia-wide cooperation.

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Tags: BBIN, Motor Vehicles Agreement, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Transport, Economic corridor

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: Bangladesh, India, LDC, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Trade Facilitation Agreement, WTO

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: Myanmar, SASEC

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: ADB, Bhutan, Regional Cooperation, South 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: Nepal, ADB, Regional Cooperation, Infrastructure, Energy

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: ADB, Bangladesh, Bhutan, BBIN, Cooperation, Development, Motor Vehicles Agreement, Energy, Investment, Nepal

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: India, Nepal, Energy, Transmission, Hydropower, Trade, Electricity

February 2017

NACEN Holds Capacity Building Program for Bangladesh Customs Officers

The National Academy of Customs, Excise and Narcotics (NACEN) in Faridabad, India organized a capacity building program for Bangladesh Customs. Topics included modern clearance processes, Customs valuation, post-clearance audit, use of risk management systems, and the role of Customs in economic corridors.

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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: Connectivity, Development, India, ICT, Employment, Services, Trade Facilitation Agreement, WTO

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: India, Employment, Services, Trade, Trade Facilitation, WTO

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: ADB, Agriculture, Bangladesh, Connectivity, Development, Economic corridor, Regional Cooperation, India, Nepal, Road, Services, Transport

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: Hydropower, Energy, Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal

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: ADB, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Connectivity, Economic 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: India, Nepal, Rail, Hydropower, Infrastructure, Transport, Energy

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.

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Tags: ASEAN, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Connectivity, India, European Union, Infrastructure

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: Nepal, Customs, Trade 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: India, Rail, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Tourism, Employment

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: Hydropower, Nepal, India, Energy

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 Asia, Regional Cooperation, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal

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: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Connectivity, Customs, Economic corridor, Harmonization, Motor Vehicles Agreement, Road, Roads, Trade Facilitation, Trade, Transport, BBIN

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: Nepal, Customs, Trade Facilitation, Single 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: Nepal, Trade Facilitation, Exports, Customs, FDI, LDC, WTO

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: India, Nepal, Trade Facilitation, Customs, Free Trade Agreement, Risk Management, WTO

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: India, Nepal, Hydropower, Kosi River, Sustainability, Poverty 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-Pacific, Bangladesh, Development, Regional Cooperation, Services, Sri Lanka, Sustainability, Tariffs, Trade, Trade Facilitation, UNESCAP, India

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: Bangladesh, India, Economic 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: Hydropower, Nepal, India, Energy

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 Lanka, Exports, India, China, Free Trade Agreement, BIMSTEC, Tourism

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: India, Bhutan, Customs, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Bilateral 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: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Trade, Free 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: India, manufacturing

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