News List

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

Year:
June 2020

BIMSTEC Needs to Prepare for Manufacturing Shifts Post-COVID-19

Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation nations need to be prepared for imminent shifts in global manufacturing that may occur following policy changes to respond to the COVID-19 global health crisis.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Trade

June 2020

ADB Project in Nepal to Support SASEC Cross-border Power Trade

A new Asian Development Bank project will help improve power supply and distribution systems in Nepal through a concessional loan worth $200 million. The project aligns with the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation program on intraregional power trade through cross-border power exchange.

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Tags: Nepal, Energy, SASEC, ADB, India

June 2020

Bangladesh and Bhutan Finalize Preferential Trade Agreement

The Governments of Bangladesh and Bhutan finalized the terms and conditions of the preferential trade agreement (PTA) on 16 June 2020. The PTA aims to increase bilateral trade between the two nations.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Trade, Bilateral Agreement

June 2020

Trade Resumes at the Phulbari Land Port

Cross-border trade between India and Bangladesh through the Phulbari land port (India) and the Banglabandha land port (Bangladesh) resumed on 13 June 2020. On the day the land port reopened, 63 trucks carrying boulders went into Bangladesh. Boulders are mainly exported to Bangladesh from India and Bhutan through Phulbari.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Trade Facilitation

June 2020

Seminar Highlights Outlook for India and Myanmar Relations

Mr. Saurabh Kumar, Ambassador, Embassy of India in Myanmar, spoke at an interactive webinar on India-Myanmar Business Promotion, Challenges and Opportunities Post COVID-19 along with his counterpart Mr. Moe Kyaw Aung, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in India. Mr. Kumar suggested expanding bilateral trade relations to include areas such as pharmacy and healthcare to help the revival of both countries post-COVID-19.

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Tags: Trade, Transport, India, Myanmar

June 2020

Challenges to Strengthening South Asia’s Supply Chains

An analysis on the Hindustan Times makes a case for building resilient supply chains in South Asia. The article proposes that, with the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), “there will be a decline in globalization and relative strengthening of regional supply chains. Geography will assume an important role in supply chains.” It further mentions that the region’s economies and South Asia’s SMEs stand to benefit from a stronger regional supply chain.

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Tags: Logistics, Regional Cooperation, South Asia, Supply Chains, India

June 2020

India Rolls Out Faceless Assessment for Imports

India’s Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) began rolling out the faceless assessment process on 8 June, starting with Chennai and Bengaluru. The implementation is being done in a phased manner, with the aim of making it the norm in the country by 31 December. Faceless assessment enables the assessing officer to examine a bill of entry from any customs station, as assigned by the customs automated system.

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Tags: India, Customs, Trade Facilitation

June 2020

Border Closure Affects India–Myanmar Trade

Border trade between India and Myanmar slowed down by over 40% for the current fiscal year, due to the temporary closure of border posts because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. The value of trade went down from $128 million to $76 million noted Thura Swiss, the agency that conducted the research.

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Tags: India, Myanmar, Covid19, Trade Facilitation, Trade

June 2020

Trade Resumes at the Petrapole Integrated Check Post

Bilateral trade resumed through the Petrapole Integrated Check Post at the India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal on 7 June 2020. As safety protocol, drivers from India are only allowed up to 500 meters inside the Bangladesh port area. They are given personal protective equipment (PPEs), hand gloves, and masks. They need to remain in their vehicles during unloading. Empty trucks need to be sanitized.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Trade Facilitation

June 2020

BIMSTEC Countries Hope for Increased Cooperation on Road to Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Leaders and foreign ministers of BIMSTEC member states and the BIMSTEC Secretary General expressed their felicitations on the occasion of BIMSTEC Day 2020, and reaffirmed their commitment to building cooperation and increasing resilience through the interregional organization amidst the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, Covid19, Connectivity

May 2020

Commentary: Fostering Indo-Bangla Trade relations, Connectivity is the 'Mantra'

This commentary emphasizes the importance of connectivity in enabling trade. Amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, railways and waterways made trade of essential goods possible between Bangladesh and India. The ‘Trans-boundary Rivers of South Asia’ project of CUTS International and its development partners have recommended these connectivity options. The feature also mentions the SASEC program, which aims to further widen the reach of subregional cooperation.

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May 2020

Temporary Jetty to Soon Enable Ferrying Goods along Tripura, India and Daudkandi, Bangladesh

Vessels carrying goods by waterway between Tripura (India) and Daudkandi (Bangladesh) may soon be possible along the Sonamura-Daudkandi stretch of Gumati River. The route is included in the second addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade between India and Bangladesh. It is set to increase the connectivity of Tripura and its adjoining states with Bangladesh's economic centers.

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May 2020

SASEC Projects in 2019 Build Economic Connectivity

ADB helps foster regional cooperation and integration through its support of the SASEC Program. In 2019, ADB committed $495 million to reduce travel times along regional corridors connecting Nepal with India and Bangladesh and improve connections to Sri Lanka’s international port under the SASEC Program.

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Tags: ADB, SASEC, Regional Cooperation, Trade Facilitation

May 2020

Bangladesh, India Add Water Routes for Trade

Bangladesh and India signed the second addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade to add two new water routes and 10 ports of call between the two countries. The new routes and ports will improve connectivity, facilitate trade, and spur economic development.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Ports, Trade Facilitation, Waterways

May 2020

Bangladesh, India Resume Cross-border Trade via Rail

Bangladesh and India resumed trade of essential commodities through existing rail links. The first freight train was loaded with around 1,000 tons of onions on 9 May 2020. It used the Gede (India) - Darsana (Bangladesh) interchange point. As of 20 May 2020, news reports noted that 10,924 tons of onions have been transported to Bangladesh. Ginger and turmeric, as well as fly ash, are also now being transported by rail.

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May 2020

Commentary: South Asian Least Developed Countries: The Rocky Path to Sustainable Graduation

Least developed countries (LDCs) receive support in the form of international support measures (ISMs), including trade-related ISMs. Once a country graduates from LDC status, they lose their ISM benefits. This commentary examines how graduating countries in South Asia—Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal—will be affected, and makes recommendations how they can better prepare. It also considers the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on trade and tourism.

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May 2020

ADB Trade Finance Program to Help Sri Lanka against COVID-19

An ADB trade finance program is supporting a loan to the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation of Sri Lanka to purchase medical supplies as part of the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Tags: ADB, Sri Lanka, Trade, Covid19

April 2020

Explainer: How Blockchain Can Improve Supply Chain Transparency in Maldives

Maldives is studying the use of high-level technologies to support a national window system to make international trade easier and more efficient. Through the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation National Single Window Project, Maldives is introducing blockchain technology to improve trade facilitation and management of local and regional supply chains.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Economic Corridor Development, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Regional Integration, Trade, Transport

April 2020

BBIN Energy Secretaries Evaluate State of Energy amidst the Pandemic

Energy Secretaries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal held a virtual meeting to evaluate the state of energy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. They discussed issues related to energy generation, demand and distribution. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the demand and supply balance, and ongoing construction projects in the subregion. Mr. Dinesh Kumar Ghimire, Secretary of Energy of the Government of Nepal discussed possible solutions with his counterparts in the subregion.

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April 2020

India CBIC Allows Paperless Customs Clearances, E-Submission of Documents for Imports

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) of the Government of India has allowed paperless customs clearances and electronic submission of documents to speed up imports beginning 15 April 2020. These include raw materials used in manufacturing medicines against the new coronavirus. These reforms will expedite customs clearances and reduce the transaction cost, as well as promote physical distancing.

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April 2020

India, Nepal to Continue Close Coordination for Smooth Facilitation of Essential Supplies

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli held a phone call to discuss policy measures against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The two leaders reiterated their agreement for Indian and Nepalese experts and officials to continue close consultations and coordination on all issues arising out of the COVID-19 situation. This includes facilitation of essential commodities across the border.

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April 2020

SAARC Senior Trade Officials Talk Trade amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

A video conference among SAARC senior trade officials discussed the impact of travel restrictions and the larger impact of COVID-19 situation on intra-regional trade. The meeting acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have a considerable adverse effect on trade in the SAARC region. Countries recognized the need to maintain essential trade within the SAARC region.

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March 2020

Commentary: Asia and the Pacific can Overcome COVID-19 by Working Together

Mr. Arjun Goswami of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) emphasizes that amidst the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, “what we need now is not to step back from cross-border cooperation but to redouble such cooperation.” Mr. Goswami underscores that regional cooperation is very much a part of ADB, with various regional cooperation platforms, including the SASEC Program. 

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Tags: Pandemic, Covid19, Regional Cooperation, SASEC, ADB

March 2020

Commentary: SAARC Unites to Handle the Pandemic

Member countries of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) held a Virtual SAARC Emergency meeting on COVID-19 on 15 March to discuss and coordinate a regional response. Mr. Sujit Bharti, a Diplomat at the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India, writes how South Asia is cooperating against the pandemic.

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Tags: Pandemic, Covid19, Regional Cooperation, SAARC, India

March 2020

Bangladesh and India Finalize TOR for Joint Study on Advanced Free Trade Agreement

The Governments of Bangladesh and India will undertake a joint study on an advanced free trade agreement under the banner of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA). The terms of reference (TOR) for the study have been finalized. Outcomes will be critical to deciding whether the free trade agreement will be inked.

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Tags: Trade, Bangladesh, India

March 2020

Grant to Provide Affordable Energy Supply to Remote Nepal Villages through SASEC

A South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation project is providing affordable energy and improving lives in rural villages through an agreement signed by Nepal’s Alternative Energy Promotion Center and the United Nations Development Programme to promote renewable energy in Nepal.

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Tags: ADB, Hydropower, Nepal, Renewable Energy, SASEC, Solar Energy

March 2020

Bangladesh Signs Deal for SASEC Dhaka-Northwest Road Corridor

The Government of Bangladesh and the Asian Development Bank signed on 15 March 2020 a $400 million loan agreement to upgrade the Dhaka-Northwest international road corridor. The project, under the Second South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Dhaka-Northwest Corridor Road Project, helps connect Bangladesh with Bhutan, India, and Nepal.

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Tags: ADB, Bangladesh, SASEC, Transport, Road

March 2020

Nepal Urges India to Expedite Implementation of Power Trade Agreement

Mr. Barsha Man Pun, Nepal Minister for Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation, urged Mr. Sanjiv Nandan Sahai, India Power Secretary, to accelerate power trade between India and Nepal. The Central Electricity Authority of India (CEA) and the Nepal Electricity Authority has an existing power trade agreement. A go ahead from the Power Ministry of India will allow the CEA to carry out measures necessary to accelerate power trade with Nepal.

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Tags: Nepal, India, Energy

March 2020

Bangladesh Approves Revised Protocol on Inland Water, Transit, and Trade

The Bangladesh cabinet approved the draft of the second revision of the Protocol on Inland Water, Transit and Trade. This draft amends the existing agreement between Bangladesh and India on raising the number of ports of call between the two countries to deepen trade via waterways.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Ports, Waterways, Trade

March 2020

Survey on India–Bhutan Railway Connectivity Commissioned

India's Ministry of Railways has commissioned a survey to establish a cross-border railway link between India and Bhutan. The planned route is on Mujnai (India)–Nyoenpaling (Bhutan).

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Tags: India, Bhutan, Rail, Transport, , Connectivity

March 2020

LPAI Lauded for Infrastructure for Facilitation of Cross-Border Trade

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Mr. Shri Nityanand Rai lauded the Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) for work on border infrastructure for facilitation of cross-border trade and travel.

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Tags: ADB, India, Infrastructure, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Tourism

February 2020

India and Myanmar Reiterate Commitments to Boost Trade and Connectivity

Mr. Win Myint, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar paid a State Visit to India, upon the invitation of Mr. Ram Nath Kovind, President of the Republic of India. The visit emphasized importance of connectivity. It also affirmed their commitments to expedite the completion of various India-funded projects ongoing in Myanmar, and underscored the need to further facilitate the easy movement of passenger and cargo traffic between the two countries.

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Tags: India, Myanmar, Connectivity

February 2020

Bangladesh to Implement Initiatives to Expedite Trade Procedures

The Government of Bangladesh will introduce procedures to fast-track processing of cross-border trade in Bangladeshi ports. Beginning July, Bangladesh will implement a pre-arrival processing of import documents. Once this is in place, cargo shippers will need to submit an import general manifest and bill of lading to the Customs authority for processing once they depart a port en route to Bangladesh’s ports.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade Facilitation, Shipping

February 2020

Mongla Port Capacity Enhancement to Ease Facilitation of Bhutan, India, and Nepal Transit Goods

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council, chaired by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, approved the proposal to enhance the capacity of Mongla port. The project is estimated to cost Tk 6,015 crore (around $710.79 million). Mongla port can be used to facilitate transit of goods to and from Bhutan, India, and Nepal. Increasing its capacity will hopefully encourage the three countries to use it further for transit of goods.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Shipping, Transit Facilitation

February 2020

Bangladesh-Nepal Relations Reviewed in Visit of Nepal Foreign Minister

Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Nepal, went on an official visit to Bangladesh in February 2020. His meetings included bilateral talks with Mr. AK Abdul Momen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Bangladesh on 18 February, and a courtesy call to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on 19 February.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Nepal, Trade, Transit Facilitation, Transport

February 2020

Imphal-Mandalay Bus Service to Start in April

India and Myanmar are launching the Imphal (Manipur, India)–Mandalay (Myanmar) bus service to further promote tourism and people-to-people visits. On 7 April 2020, the new passenger bus route will be inaugurated in Mandalay in a ceremony flagging off a bus bound for Imphal. On 8 April, a bus bound for Mandalay will be flagged off from Imphal. The Shwe Mandalar Express Company Limited from Yangon and Seven Sisters Holidays from Imphal partnered to operate the bus route.

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Tags: India, Myanmar, Connectivity, Transport

February 2020

Inland Waterways to Help Channel Economic Activity along the Ganga River

Inland waterways is an important pillar of ‘Arth-Ganga,’ a project that aims to channelize economic activity along the banks of Ganga River to promote inclusive growth for India and generate enormous employment opportunities. The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Shipping of the Government of India.

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Tags: Inland waterways, India, Nepal, Trade Facilitation, Logistics

February 2020

Experts Call for Energy Cooperation among BIMSTEC Countries

Policymakers and experts have begun discussions on the creation of a regional power grid for Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) member countries.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, Bangladesh, Cooperation, Energy, Nepal

February 2020

ADB Facility to Boost Transport Connectivity in Bangladesh

The Asian Development Bank has approved $42 million facility for project readiness financing (PRF) to improve transport connectivity in Bangladesh. The PRF will promote multimodal transport and support project preparation for road and railway projects and to help the country meet its growing transport needs.

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Tags: ADB, Bangladesh, Rail, SASEC, Transport

February 2020

Bangladesh, India, and Nepal Move to Finalize Connectivity Network

Representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) met in New Delhi, India, on 8 February 2020 to discuss and push for the finalization of the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement.

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

January 2020

Bangladesh, India to Upgrade the Ashuganj-Akhaura road

The Governments of Bangladesh and India signed an agreement to upgrade the 50.58-kilometer long road between Ashuganj river port and the Akhaura land port in Bangladesh into a four-lane highway. The project will be developed under the $2 billion line of credit extended by India to Bangladesh in 2016.

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January 2020

Second Integrated Check Post along India-Nepal Border Inaugurated

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli jointly inaugurated the Integrated Check Post at the Jogbani (India)-Biratnagar (Nepal) border via video conference. The check post was built with Indian assistance of $19.64 million (around NPR 2.24 billion). It houses Customs, Immigration, and Border Security.

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January 2020

Commentary: Inland Waterways – Positive Impact on Economy

Inland waterways could significantly reduce the cost of transporting goods and transit time, and decongest highways. In this piece, Mr. Debasish Mallick, the former Deputy Managing Director of EXIM Bank of India and Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Industrial Development Bank of India Asset Management Company Ltd, discusses how inland waterways could benefit the Indian economy.

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January 2020

Bangladesh, India Commerce Secretaries Discuss CEPA

The Governments of Bangladesh and India held a Commerce Secretary-level meeting. They discussed the proposed bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), a free trade agreement to boost trade between Bangladesh and India. The two countries have undertaken a joint study to learn its potential benefits.

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January 2020

Akhaura-Agartala Railway Link to be Operational in 2020

Mr. Hasan Mahmud, Information Minister of Bangladesh, and Mr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister of India, underscored in a meeting that completion of the Akhaura (Bangladesh)-Agartala (India) railway link will increase cross border connectivity. The neighboring countries expressed the mutual view to finish this railway at the soonest possible time. People-to-people linkages, business and tourism are set to benefit once the railway finishes.

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