News List

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

Year:
October 2020

Webinar Deliberates on Gender Dimensions of Trade Facilitation in the BBIN Subregion

A webinar organized by CUTS International on 30 October 2020 deliberated the findings of the project, ‘Gender Dimensions of Trade Facilitation in the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Subregion.’ The work undertaken by CUTS reveals that the absence of gender responsive trade facilitation measures helps exacerbate gender inequality.

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Tags: BBIN, Gender, Trade Facilitation, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Trade

October 2020

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Expresses Hope for Bangladesh-Bhutan Road Connectivity

Establishment of road connectivity between Bangladesh and Bhutan would give a boost to bilateral trade between the two countries, emphasized Mr. AK Abdul Momen, Foreign Minister of the Government of Bangladesh, in his meeting with Mr. Rinchen Kuentsyl, Bhutan Ambassador to Bangladesh.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Free Trade Agreement

October 2020

Sri Lanka Customs Offers Efficient, Safe Services during Pandemic with Digital Tools

Digital tools have helped Sri Lanka Customs provide efficient services to its users while maintaining health protocols to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Sri Lanka Customs has embarked on several modernization processes, which have helped maintain social distancing.

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Tags: Sri Lanka, Trade Facilitation, Digital

October 2020

Bangladesh, ADB to Fast-Track Projects

Bangladesh and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have agreed to fast-track projects to help economic recovery and job creation in the country. Bangladesh and ADB have pledged to accelerate approval for large contracts, implement health safety guidelines, and provide virtual training opportunities to project staff members and beneficiaries.

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Tags: Bangladesh, ADB

October 2020

Indian Market Access, Plant Quarantine Center for Bhutanese Agri Products

The Government of India has granted market access to five agricultural products from Bhutan. A plant quarantine center was also set up in Jaigaon, India, to ease India-Bhutan cross-border trade of agricultural goods.

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Tags: Bhutan, India, Trade

October 2020

ADB Endorses New 5-Year Partnership Strategy for Maldives

The Asian Development Bank has endorsed a new 5-year country partnership strategy for Maldives to support the country’s path to development. The strategy, which covers the period 2020–2024, will support Maldives in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also help ADB continue gender mainstreaming in its operations in the country.

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Tags: ADB, Maldives

October 2020

Bangladesh, Nepal Negotiate Draft Preferential Trade Agreement

The Governments of Bangladesh and Nepal held a secretary-level meeting virtually to negotiate a preferential trade agreement. Bangladesh has requested zero-duty benefit on the export of 140 products to Nepal. Nepal has proposed duty-free facility for 130 products.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Nepal, Trade

October 2020

Air Travel Bubble between Bhutan and India

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Bhutan announced an Air Travel Bubble Arrangement with the Government of India. The arrangement makes flight operations possible between the two neighboring countries until normal operations of international flights resume.

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Tags: Bhutan, India, Aviation

October 2020

India, Myanmar Engagement in Various Sectors Continue 

The Governments of India and Myanmar lauded the continuous engagement in sectors of cooperation through virtual meetings amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. This reflects the depth of bilateral engagement between the two countries, highlighted the news release for the 19th round of India - Myanmar Foreign Office Consultations.

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Tags: India, Myanmar, Pandemic

September 2020

India-Maldives Direct Cargo Ferry Service Launched

Mr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Shipping of the Government of India, and Ms. Aishath Nahula, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation of Maldives, led the online ceremony for the launch of the direct cargo ferry service between India and Maldives. The ferry service aims to provide a cost effective, direct, and alternate means of transportation of goods between India and Maldives.

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Tags: India, Maldives

September 2020

India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission Recommends Removal of Trade Barriers

The sixth meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission held virtually on 29 September 2020 recommended taking greater measures to mutually enhance trade and investment between the two countries. Recommendations include removal of all forms of barriers to trade, and harmonization of standards and mutual recognition of certificates--important elements of trade facilitation.

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September 2020

Bangladesh, Bhutan Aim to Move Preferential Trade Agreement Forward

The preferential trade agreement between Bangladesh and Bhutan is expected to be signed in the near future. According to Mr. Loknath Sharma, Economic Affairs Minister of the Government of Bhutan, in a Kuensel report, the two countries have agreed to the draft text of the agreement and is set to be finalized by a commerce secretary-level meeting.

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September 2020

India, Sri Lanka Prime Ministers Vow to Further Deepen Bilateral Ties amidst the Pandemic

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa convened a virtual summit. Prime Minister Rajapaksa commended Prime Minister Modi’s leadership in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Prime Minister Modi reaffirmed India’s continued commitment to extend full support to Sri Lanka to help cushion the pandemic's impact.

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September 2020

India Delivers Broad Gauge Railway Trains to Nepal

Two modern DEMU (Diesel – Electric Multiple Unit) train sets were delivered by India’s Konkan Railways to Nepal Railways, and a trial run was conducted on 18 September 2020.

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September 2020

Fifteenth Informal Meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers

Finance Ministers/ Heads of Delegations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries held their 15th Informal Meeting on 16 September 2020 on the sidelines of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank. They discussed the huge challenges posed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

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September 2020

India's Northeast Region is Gateway to Southeast Asia -India Foreign Secretary

India's northeastern states are working to improve infrastructure and connectivity to help reduce the cost of transport and basic commodities. India's northeastern region is the country's gateway to East and Southeast Asia, and India is promoting transport and energy connectivity with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal, explains Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary of the Government of India.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Transport, Energy

September 2020

Odisha Economic Corridor Included in the National Industrial Corridor Development Program

The National Industrial Corridor Development and Implementation Trust has approved the inclusion of the Odisha Economic Corridor under the National Industrial Corridor Development Program. It will become part of the East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC), India’s first coastal economic corridor.

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Tags: Economic corridor, East Coast Economic Corridor, India

September 2020

Bangladesh Approves SASEC Highway Project

The Bangladesh Executive Committee of the National Economic Council has approved a road expansion program through the SASEC Road Link Project II: Elenga-Hatikamrul-Rangpur Highway Four-Lane Upgradation. The project will be part of a road network connecting Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal that would increase trade and commerce in the subregion.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Economic Corridor Development, India, Nepal, SASEC, Transport

September 2020

Bangladesh, India Complete Trial Run on the Daudkandi–Sonamura Waterway Route

A trial run for the first export consignment from Bangladesh to Tripura, India, through inland waterways was conducted on 3–5 September 2020. The barge traveled 93 kilometers along the Meghna-Gomati river route carrying 50 tons of cement.

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

September 2020

BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting Approves MoU with ADB for Greater Project Support

The 21st Session of the BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) convened foreign secretaries and senior officials of the BIMSTEC Member States. The virtual meeting approved the memorandum of understanding between the BIMSTEC Secretariat and the Asian Development Bank for greater project support in the BIMSTEC region.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, ADB, Regional Cooperation

August 2020

Bhutan's Electricity Export to India Continues to Increase

Hydropower generation in Bhutan, the country’s biggest export, has increased by 14%. Bhutan’s economic development is linked with the growth of its hydropower sector. Strong growth in hydropower generation can help offset the COVID-19-induced dip in GDP.

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Tags: Bhutan, India, Hydropower, Electricity

August 2020

SASEC Road and Rail Projects in Bangladesh Scheduled for 2021-2023

ADB has a redesigned financing plan to help Bangladesh recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the Country Operations Business Plan for 2021 to 2023, ADB's financing priorities in Bangladesh have been adjusted to include more than $11 billion in policy-based loans for social protection, economic recovery, and health programs. The plan includes support for SASEC road corridors, rail projects, and trade facilitation programs.

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Tags: ADB, SASEC, Transport, Road, Rail, Trade Facilitation

August 2020

Nepal, ADB Sign Deal for SASEC Power Transmission and Trade

The Government of Nepal and the Asian Development Bank signed a loan and grant agreement that would help improve power supply and distribution systems in Nepal. The project aligns with the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation program on intraregional power trade.

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Tags: ADB, Nepal, Energy

August 2020

Bangladesh Approves Road Widening Project of India Trade Route

The Government of Bangladesh approved a Tk 848.3 crore (around $100 million) for a road widening project that would help broaden bilateral trade with India. Under the project, the 38km Baraiyerhat-Hiako-Ramgarh road in the Khagrachhari district will be widened.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Trade, Transport

August 2020

Bilateral Projects Discussed in India Foreign Secretary's Visit to Dhaka

Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary of the Government of India, paid a visit to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to take forward cooperation on matters of mutual interest. His meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina discussed India-Bangladesh connectivity and power projects, as well as India’s developmental assistance for Bangladesh.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Energy, Transport

August 2020

Meeting between Nepal Prime Minister, Sri Lanka Envoy Highlight Friendly Ties

Ms. Himalee Arunatilaka, Sri Lankan Ambassador to Nepal, called on Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli on 18 August in Kathmandu, Nepal. During their meeting, Prime Minister Oli noted the long history of Nepal-Sri Lanka bilateral relations and described Sri Lanka as a “very good friend of Nepal.”

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Tags: Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tourism, Trade

August 2020

Eighth Meeting of Nepal-India Oversight Mechanism Held

The Governments of India and Nepal held the Eighth Meeting of the Nepal-India Oversight Mechanism on 17 August 2020. The virtual meeting conducted a comprehensive review of the projects being implemented under bilateral cooperation.

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Tags: India, Nepal, Energy, Transport

August 2020

Commentary: Resume Indo-Bangladesh Border Haats in a Bio-secured Manner

Prolonged closure of border haats will decrease income opportunities for border residents of both India and Bangladesh. But if border haats are to be reopened, operational guidelines will have to be amended to ensure personal and public safety in the time of COVID-19.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Border Haat, Trade, COVID-19

August 2020

Bangladesh Approves Draft Addendum to the Transit Protocol with Nepal

The cabinet of the Government of Bangladesh has approved the draft addendum to the protocol to the transit agreement with the Government of Nepal. The addendum adds Rohonpur in Chapainawabganj (Bangladesh) as a railway transit entry and exit point.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Nepal, Rail, Transport

August 2020

Commentary: Fostering Inclusive Development in Indo-Nepal via Power Trading

India and Nepal can enjoy considerable benefits from cross-border energy trade. This commentary discusses how developing a robust power trading ecosystem can have far-reaching environmental, institutional, and social benefits in India and Nepal.

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Tags: Nepal, India, Energy

July 2020

10 Broad Gauge Railway Locomotives to Further Ramp Up Bangladesh-India Links

The Government of India turned over 10 broad gauge railway locomotives to Bangladesh as part of a grant assistance on 27 July 2020. The two nations are committed to ramp up initiatives in connectivity and infrastructure to boost bilateral trade and promote the creation of new supply chains amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Rail, Connectivity

July 2020

Railway Initiatives Support Bangladesh-India Supply Chain amidst the Pandemic

Bangladesh Railways and Indian Railways rolled out initiatives to support importers and exporters through the current COVID-19 health crisis and minimize the disruption in the supply chain. They rolled out a container train service and parcel train service, after reaching the milestone of recording the most number of freight trains interchanged within a month.

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Tags: Rail, Bangladesh, India

July 2020

Nepal Electricity Authority Receives Nod to Conduct Trade with Bangladesh and India

The Government of Nepal gave the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) approval to sell electricity to Bangladesh and India. Approval of Nepal Cabinet allows NEA to fix the price on the basis of competition, according to a report on the Himalayan Times. NEA can engage in electricity trade when domestic production is high and/or when production is low.

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Tags: Nepal, Electricity, Energy, Bangladesh, India

July 2020

India, Bhutan Open Temporary Trade Route in Pasakha

The Government of India has opened an additional Land Customs station at Ahlay, Pasakha, in response to a request from the Government of Bhutan. The temporary alternate trade route hopes to decongest vehicular traffic along the Jaigaon-Phuentsholing route, and boost bilateral trade and commerce between the two nations.

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Tags: Bhutan, India, Trade Facilitation, Land Customs Station, Transit Facilitation

July 2020

SASEC Projects in Bangladesh Slowed by Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has slowed the implementation of Asian Development Bank-funded projects in Bangladesh, including the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Connectivity Project-1 and 2 and the SASEC Chattogram-Cox's Bazar Railway Project. As the country proceeds to lift lockdown restrictions, implementing agencies are preparing plans for the full resumption of work on construction sites.

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Tags: ADB, SASEC, Transport, Road, Rail, Bangladesh

July 2020

Increased Connectivity to Help BBIN Face Post-COVID Shocks

Extensive connectivity in the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal subregion is needed to respond to economic vulnerabilities brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Increased connectivity through trade and transport infrastructure, such as those under the South Asian Subregional Economic Cooperation program, help the Asian Development Bank in its work to reduce poverty and promote gender equality.

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Tags: ADB, SASEC, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Transport, Jobs

July 2020

SASEC Road Reaches 75% Completion in Bangladesh

The South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Road Connectivity Project Road Connectivity Project, which will connect Bangladesh with regional and international transport networks, is 75.48% completed. The Government of Bangladesh is also upgrading the Elenga-Hatikumrul highway to include four lanes with service lanes on both sides.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Transport, Road, SASEC

July 2020

Commentary: India-Bangladesh Expanded River Trade Opens Up Opportunities for Locals

The second addendum to the Protocol of Inland Water Transit and Trade, which was signed on 20 May 2020 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, added 2 new water routes and 10 new ports of call to the protocol to facilitate bilateral trade. With the signing of the addendum, new opportunities are opening up for small producers and marginalized communities, according to this commentary by Mr. Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director, CUTS International.

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Tags: India, Bangladesh, Trade, Ports, Waterways

July 2020

Direct Shipping Service between Kolkata and Chattogram Commences

A new direct shipping service was introduced between the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port in Kolkata, India, and the Chattogram (Chittagong) Port in Bangladesh, through the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route. It promises to reduce time and cost of transit of goods, as well as lessen dwell time and bring more predictability in shipments.

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Tags: Shipping, Bangladesh, India

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

Strengthening Value Chain Linkages to Help Bangladesh and India Recover: Webinar

The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) proposed a Bilateral Value Chain Initiative (BVCI) as a way forward in Bangladesh-India business relations. Under a proposed memorandum of understanding between FBCCI and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), raw materials from India will be transported to Bangladesh for production.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Value Chains, Trade, Trade Facilitation

June 2020

Bhutan, India Enter into Joint Hydropower Venture

The Governments of Bhutan and India signed an agreement for the first joint venture hydropower project between the two countries. This agreement covers the construction of the 600-megawatt Kholongchhu hydropower project in Bhutan.

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Tags: Hydropower, Energy, Bhutan, India

June 2020

Agreement for Preparatory Facility to Improve Bangladesh’s Transport Connectivity Inked

The Government of Bangladesh and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed the agreement for the Transport Connectivity Improvement Preparatory Facility. This project readiness financing (PRF), worth $57.23 million, will support the preparation of priority transport projects in Bangladesh.

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Tags: Transport, Bangladesh, Road, Rail, Transit Facilitation

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

ADB Expands Trade Finance Program in Bangladesh for Post-COVID-19 Growth

The Asian Development Bank has expanded its support for Bangladesh's private sector through its Trade Finance Program. Enhancing the program will raise exports and imports, increase jobs, and contribute to economic development in Bangladesh.

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Tags: ADB, Bangladesh, Trade, Covid19

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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