News List

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

Year:
May 2019

ADB to Help Maldives Establish A National Single Window

The Asian Development Bank approved the proposed financing for the Maldives: SASEC National Single Window Project worth $11 million. This project will introduce a single electronic platform in Maldives to improve the speed and efficiency of cross-border control procedures by employing the latest technology. This project will improve the trade environment of Maldives, and help expand its trade with partners in the region, including India and Sri Lanka.

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May 2019

Sri Lanka, India, and Japan to Jointly Develop Colombo Por's East Container Terminal

The Governments of Sri Lanka, India, and Japan signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to jointly develop Colombo Port's East Container Terminal. The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) highlights that this project reflects the longstanding good will and cooperation among the three countries. Sri Lanka, India, and Japan pledged to work together for further development of the Colombo Port, and contribute to regional prosperity and stability of global trading networks.

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May 2019

Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina Opens SASEC Flyovers, Underpasses, Bridges

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Konabary and Chandra flyovers; the Kaliakair, Deohata, Mirzapur, and Gharinda underpasses; and the Kadda-1 and Bimail bridges on the Joydebpur-Chandra-Tangail-Elenga highway under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation countries (SASEC) road connectivity project.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Economic Corridor Development, SASEC, Transport

May 2019

Bangladesh SASEC Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar Railway Project Gets Tranche 2 Financing

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Bangladesh signed an agreement for Tranche 2 financing of the Bangladesh: South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Chattogram (Chittagong)-Cox's Bazar Railway Project, Phase 1. The $400 million loan support from ADB forms the second part of the $1.5 billion ADB railway project loan. Tranche 2 will be complemented with $50 million financing from the Government of Bangladesh.

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May 2019

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Requests ADB Support in Building Regional Infrastructure

Mr. Manmohan Parkash, Country Director of Bangladesh Resident Mission of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), called on Mr. AK Abdul Momen, Foreign Minister of the Government of Bangladesh. In the meeting, the Foreign Minister stressed Bangladesh's appreciation for strengthening regional connectivity through the ADB-supported SASEC program. He further requested the ADB Country Director for continued support in building regional infrastructure.

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May 2019

20th Regional Heads of Customs Administration Conference of the WCO Asia Pacific Region Held in Kochi

The conference was organized by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs of the Government of India. It reviewed members' progress in promoting, facilitating, and securing cross-border trade in the region through programs and initiatives of the World Customs Organization. The conference also discussed issues on security, trade facilitation, e-commerce, trusted trader programs, and emerging technological and logistical challenges.

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May 2019

Sri Lanka Exports to SASEC Countries up by 8%

Sri Lanka’s exports to SASEC member countries have increased from 6% to 8% in the 13-year-period from 2002 to 2015. India is Sri Lanka’s largest trading partners, according to the study Potential Exports and Nontariff Barriers to Trade: Sri Lanka National Study prepared by ADB. The study looks at ways to help Sri Lanka exports by establishing laboratory facilities for testing products and by developing the country’s regulatory framework, institutional settings, and capacity.

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Tags: Sanitary and Phytosanitary, Technical Barriers to Trade, SASEC, Sri Lanka

May 2019

Commentary: Four Border Junctions

India could play a crucial role in interconnecting regional energy networks. In this commentary, Mr. Mahendra P. Lama outlines what India needs to approach energy security projects in India and its neighboring countries.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Renewable Energy, Regional Cooperation, Nepal, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Trade, Transport

May 2019

ECTS Reduces Need for Indian Customs Clearance on Nepal's Third Country Imports via Rail

With the implementation of the electronic cargo tracking system (ECTS) at the ports of Kolkata and Visakhapatnam (Vizag), clearance by Indian customs authorities will no longer be required on Nepal's third country imports onboard container rail cargo. Kolkata port authorities are also planning to introduce ECTS for cargo transshipment via roads, in phases.

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May 2019

Commentary: Closer Economic Ties with Neighbors Vital

This article makes a case for strengthening of economic ties between India and its neighbors, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal. Currently, India's trade in South Asia is worth around $19.1 billion—only 3% of its total trade. This commentary, originally published in the Hindu Business Line, explores three emerging avenues of bilateral cooperation that are gaining economic momentum between India and its neighbors: border 'haats' (markets), waterways connectivity, and energy networks.

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May 2019

Expanding Energy Generation Critical to Bangladesh’s Growth

Mr. Hun Kim, Director General, South Asia Regional Department, Asian Development Bank expressed high hopes for Bangladesh in a press briefing held on the sidelines of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the ADB Board of Governors. He noted that the country's ability to expand its energy generation would be critical to its growth. Expanding and diversifying the region's energy supply, which will help enhance Bangladesh's energy security, is a key focus of the SASEC Program.

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May 2019

Three Pharmaceutical Companies in Bangladesh Become Authorized Economic Operators

The status of Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) was granted by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) of the Government of Bangladesh to three pharmaceutical companies—Square, Beximco, and Incepta Pharmaceuticals. An accreditation ceremony was held on 5 May 2019, jointly organized by the NBR and USAID Bangladesh under the Bangladesh Trade Facilitation Activity project

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May 2019

LPG Transshipment Terminal Inaugurated in Sri Lanka

The Laugfs LPG Transshipment Terminal was officially inaugurated at Sri Lanka's Hambantota International Port. The 30,000 MT LPG terminal will operate as a central hub for importing and re-exporting LPG and be a source of provision to retailers. It is eyeing $500 million in annual exports, and will facilitate coastal shipping services between Hambantota and Colombo Ports.

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May 2019

Nepal to Apply the ‘One basin, One hub' Concept in Implementing Transmission Line Projects

The Government of Nepal will apply the 'one basin, one hub' concept in implementing transmission line projects. Environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity and arable land, and threat to human settlements are some of the possible negative outcomes that could arise from allowing every power producer to build separate transmission lines, according to Mr. Netra Gyawali, Chief Executive Officer, National Transmission Grid Company.

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May 2019

SDF Governing Council Meeting Reviews Future Strategies and Action Plan

The SAARC Finance Ministers held the sixth Governing Council Meeting of the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) on the sidelines of the of the 52nd Asian Development Bank (ADB) Annual General Meeting in Nadi, Fiji. Mr. Sunil Motiwal, Chief Executive Officer, SDF, presented a report on the current status of SDF and talked about its future action plans, including implementation of its economic and infrastructure windows.

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May 2019

Thirteenth Informal Meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers Held in Fiji

The 13th Informal Meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers was held in Nadi, Fiji on 2 May 2019 on the sidelines of the 52nd Asian Development Bank (ADB) Annual General Meeting. Mr. Shixin Chen, Vice President for Operations 1, ADB, delivered opening remarks. In his speech, he highlighted participation of SAARC member countries in ADB’s regional cooperation and integration programs, SASEC and CAREC. He pressed upon continuing the implementation of the SASEC operational plan.

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April 2019

Indian Envoy Reviews Bilateral Trade and Connectivity with Bangladesh Ministers

Ms. Riva Ganguly Das, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, paid courtesy calls to Mr. AK Abdul Momen, Foreign Minister, Mr. Salman F. Rahman, Private Industries and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister, and Mr. Md Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Government of Bangladesh in April 2019. Matters of mutual interest on bilateral cooperation, trade, energy, and transport connectivity were discussed in her visits.

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April 2019

India Formalizes Assistance for the Government of Bhutan’s 12th Plan

The Government of India formalized its assistance to the Government of Bhutan’s 12th Plan at the first development talk for the 12th Plan between the two countries. India committed around $706.9 million (Nu49 billion) in support of the 12th Plan – with around $649.2 million (Nu45 billion) for development assistance and around $57.7 million (Nu4 billion) for Bhutan’s trade support facility. The bilateral meeting also discussed its implementation.

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April 2019

New Bridge over Omchhu to Complement SASEC Road Project in Bhutan

A 46.8-meter bridge over the Omchhu River in Phuentsholing, Bhutan, is now open to motor vehicle traffic. The bridge will ease congestion in Phuentsholing and complement the SASEC bypass road project, which aims to promote regional connectivity and cross-border trade through investment in road construction and land ports.

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Tags: Bhutan, SASEC, Transport

April 2019

Traders Urge Simplification of Trade Processes at Benapole

The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Benapole Custom House jointly organized a meeting urging simplification of the export-import processes at the Benapole Land Port. The meeting recommended capacity enhancement, infrastructure development, and a shift to a 24-hour operating schedule to facilitate smoother trade.

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April 2019

Sri Lanka Customs Prepares Launch of Paperless Documentation

Sri Lanka Customs is preparing to launch its paperless documentation platform on 1 June 2019. The system, which is currently on trial run, will enable traders to file customs declarations online and use e-signatures. Sri Lanka Customs is also in talks with port operators to streamline their document processing and link up with Sri Lanka Customs. This could help bring down the average container clearance time by 12 hours.

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April 2019

Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering Visits Bangladesh

Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering paid a State Visit to Bangladesh on the invitation of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The two Prime Ministers agreed to allow duty free, quote free access to 26 additional items; finalized the pact on the Movement of Goods in Transit; and signed the SOP for the operationalization of the MoU on Use of Inland Waterways for Transportation of Bilateral Trade and Transit Cargoes.

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April 2019

21st ASEAN-India Senior Officials' Meeting Agrees to Pursue Maritime Cooperation and Connectivity

The 21st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India Senior Officials' Meeting reviewed the strategic partnership between ASEAN and India, and assessed its future direction. The Meeting agreed to deepen Maritime Cooperation, and pursue ASEAN-India connectivity, including through the Trilateral Highway and its extension to Lao PDR, Cambodia and Viet Nam.

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April 2019

Brief: Achieving Prosperity by Developing Sri Lanka's Connectivity

Sri Lanka aims to become the center of connectivity in South Asia. Leveraging on its strategic location, Sri Lanka is working toward becoming the region’s hub port—the Indian Ocean’s logistic, shipping, distribution, and maritime hub. In his column, Mr. Sugeeswara Senadhira discussed Sri Lanka’s plans to restore internal connectivity and boost its transport infrastructure, to complement this aim

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March 2019

Nepal to Use India Transmission to Export Hydropower to Bangladesh and Myanmar

India said it would support Nepal’s energy sector as Nepal seeks to export energy to third countries, such as Bangladesh and Myanmar. The move will provide power producers in Nepal access to international markets for energy export.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Energy, India, Myanmar, Nepal

March 2019

BIMSTEC Prioritizing Energy Sufficiency

Energy sufficiency is being prioritized by member countries of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), highlighted Mr. Win Khaing, Minister of Electricity and Energy, Government of Myanmar, during an expert subregional group meeting held in Nay Pyi Taw. This meeting emphasized expansion of energy trading as first step toward energy sufficiency.

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March 2019

ADB Country Director for Bangladesh Urges Harnessing Regional Power Trade

Mr. Manmohan Parkash, Country Director, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Bangladesh, commended Bangladesh's progress in the energy sector. On Bangladesh’s drive to achieve sustainable and inclusive development, he urged the country to continue working toward providing last mile connectivity for electricity access, developing proper energy mix by investing in renewables, and harnessing regional power trade.

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March 2019

Third Nepal-Bangladesh Business Forum Emphasize Expanding Multimodal Connectivity

The Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs and the Embassy of Bangladesh in Nepal jointly organized the third Nepal-Bangladesh Business Forum. The Forum held discussions on (i) expanding multimodal connectivity for mutual economic growth, and (ii) strong media cooperation for enhancing bilateral ties.

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March 2019

India-Nepal Agree to Include Inland Waterways in Trade and Transit Treaties

Senior officials met to review India-Nepal bilateral transit and trade treaties and agreed to discuss inland waterways facilities, which could reduce transit cost significantly once implemented. The two countries also agreed to install facilities for electronic cargo tracking on cargo bound for Nepal.

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Tags: Inland waterways, India, Nepal, Transport, Electronic Cargo Tracking System

March 2019

Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering To Visit Bangladesh

Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering is scheduled to visit Bangladesh on the second week of April, and sign bilateral instruments between Bangladesh and Bhutan together with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. These include agreements for cooperation on inland waterways for cargo transportation, cooperation in health and agriculture, and cooperation between each country's Public Administration Training Center.

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March 2019

New CERC Regulations To Ease Cross Border Electricity Trade

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) of the Government of India revised the regulations on power trade between India and its neighboring countries, covering both bilateral and trilateral energy trade. Key sections of the CERC Cross Border Trade of Electricity Regulations 2019 include the General Provisions and the Transmission Planning, Connectivity, and Access.

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March 2019

Report: India needs $39 Billion Investment for Transmission Systems in the Next Three Years

A report published by Mercom highlighted that India needs $39 billion investment to implement the necessary transmission systems over the next three years to meet new power generation capacity and demand. Based on the National Electricity Plan, the report also underlined that around 110,000 circuit kilometers of transmissions lines are needed.

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March 2019

Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Emphasize Resolving Existing Barriers to Trade through Discussion

Ms. Riva Ganguly Das, the newly-appointed Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, paid a courtesy call to Mr. Tipu Munshi, Commerce Minister of the Government of Bangladesh. The meeting discussed increasing bilateral trade between the two neighboring countries. Ms. Das emphasized that trade between Bangladesh and India has huge scope for expansion. She underlined that existing barriers to trade between their countries will be solved through discussion.

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March 2019

Bangladesh, India Inaugurate New Development Projects

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi jointly inaugurated via video conference development projects in Bangladesh. Projects include supply of 1,100 buses and trucks to Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation; 36 community clinics; 11 water treatment plants; and extension of National Knowledge Network to Bangladesh. Prime Minister Modi highlighted that these projects will boost knowledge connectivity and transport connectivity.

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March 2019

New Rule to Promote Use of ECTS

The Nepal Rastra Bank, the central bank of Nepal, has allowed commercial banks to issue payment instruments in foreign currency for cargo transported by railway to the Birgunj dry port and Biratnagar customs point. The move aims to facilitate the implementation of the electronic cargo tracking system for third country import.

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Tags: Electronic Cargo Tracking System, India, Nepal, Rail, Transit Facilitation

March 2019

Master Plan to Push Development of Ports and Shipping in Sri Lanka

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Southern Development and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority held its final workshop on a National Port Master Plan on 7 March 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The plan is supported by a technical assistance project by the Asian Development Bank financed by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction.

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Tags: ADB, SASEC, Sri Lanka, Transport

March 2019

Components of the SASEC Road Connectivity Project in Bhutan Nears Completion

Improvements for the Pasakha bypass road in Bhutan are nearing completion, reports Kuensel. These include the i) development of a 1.3 kilometer road, ii) a gabion wall in Baunijhora stream, and iii) a 123-meter pre-stressed concrete girder bridge over the Bhalujhora river. The Asian Development Bank is providing 81% of the financing for these projects under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Connectivity Project. 19% of the cost will be shouldered by the Government.

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March 2019

Jayanagar-Janakpur Rail Service in Final Stage of Completion

Construction and rail procurement for the Jayanagar (India)-Janakpur (Nepal) rail service are in their final stages, according to Mr. Balaram Mishra, Director General, Department of Railways, Government of Nepal, in a report on Setopati. Operations is estimated to begin in 2 months.

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February 2019

Government of India to Support Construction of Arun-3 Hydropower Project Transmission Line

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs of the Government of India, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the proposed investment for the transmission line of the Arun-3 Hydropower Project in Nepal worth Rs 1236.13 crore (around $177.48 million).

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February 2019

UN Official: India Can Help Nepal Boost Global Trade

India can play a key role in helping Nepal achieve its aims of expanding its international trade, highlighted Ms. Fekitamoeloa ʻUtoikamanu, Undersecretary General and High Representative, UN-OHRLLS. She also urged simplification and harmonization of border crossing procedures to improve India-Nepal trade, and promoted the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement.

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February 2019

ECTS Enhances Nepal-bound Rail Transshipment from India’s Kolkata and Haldia Ports

Cargo containers using the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) bound for Nepal by rail was flagged off from the Kolkata Port on 15 February 2019. Mr. Vinit Kumar, Kolkata Port Trust Chairman, and Mr. Manish Chandra, Commissioner of Customs, Kolkata, led the ceremony. A pilot program using the ECTS modality is being implemented on rail routes originating from Kolkata and Haldia ports, to Birgunj via the Raxaul land customs station.

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Tags: Electronic Cargo Tracking System

February 2019

SASEC-financed Mini Dry Port in Phuentsholing Ready for Use

The mini-dry port in Phuentsholing, Bhutan, built with loan/grant financing support from the Asian Development Bank under the SASEC Road Connectivity Project is ready for use. Constructed on 5.4 acres of land, the port will help promote regional connectivity with neighboring countries.

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February 2019

7th Bhutan-Bangladesh Commerce Secretary-level Meeting Explores Promotion of Trade and Commerce

Mr. Md. Mofizul Islam, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce of the Government of Bangladesh, and Mr. Yeshi Wangdi, Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Government of Bhutan headed the delegations of Bangladeshi and Bhutanese government officials at 7th Bhutan-Bangladesh commerce secretary-level meeting held in Thimphu, Bhutan.

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February 2019

Bangladesh Foreign Affairs Minister Visits India

Mr. Abdul Momen, Foreign Affairs Minister of the Government of Bangladesh, undertook a four-day visit to India. He co-chaired the 5th India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Committee Meeting with Ms. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of the Government of India. They discussed progress in trade and connectivity, and water, power and energy sectors. During his trip, Mr. Momen also called on India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Muk

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February 2019

Maldives-Sri Lanka Similarities Make it Easier to Do Business

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Maldives, said Sri Lanka’s similarities with Maldives make it easier for the two countries to do business with each other. He noted how trade between Maldives and Sri Lanka has prospered in the last two decades.

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Tags: Maldives, Sri Lanka, Trade, Investment

January 2019

Trincomalee Port to be Developed into Export Hub

Development of Trincomalee harbor into a highly competitive port is a key pillar of the Government of Sri Lanka’s export strategy. Plans to boost its facilities for 24/7 operation and increase the volume of cargo it handles are underway. Galle harbor in Sri Lanka’s southwestern coast will also be upgraded to handle night navigation.

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January 2019

ECTS to be Implemented on Nepal-bound Cargo Transiting via Kolkata/Haldia

The Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) will be rolled out on pilot basis to facilitate the movement of Nepal-bound cargo transiting via Kolkata/Haldia. The new transshipment procedure will be implemented beginning 15 February 2019, announced the Office of the Commissioner of Customs (Port) of the Government of India in a circular.

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Tags: Electronic Cargo Tracking System

January 2019

Private Sector Urged to Tap into Bangladesh-Nepal's Full Trade Potential

The Rangpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) hosted a discussion on exploring Bangladesh-Nepal trade potential, with Bangladeshi importers and exporters, industrialists and businesspersons, and an 11-member Nepalese business delegation. The meeting discussed prospects and barriers in bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Nepal.

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January 2019

Improvements in Cross-border Trade Lauded in CBIC’s International Customs Day Celebration

India's momentous leap to rank 77 in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business rankings was highlighted at the International Customs Day celebrations of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC). In his address, Chief Guest Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister of Finance, Government of India, congratulated the CBIC for their efforts to help improve India's rank on the "Trading Across Borders" metric.

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January 2019

Bangladesh Signs Deal for Elenga–Hatikumrul–Rangpur Highway under SASEC Program

The Government of Bangladesh has signed an agreement with a Bandgladesh-China joint venture to upgrade 190 kilometers of the Elenga–Hatikumrul–Rangpur section of the Dhaka-Northwest Corridor, under the SASEC program.

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Tags: ADB, Bangladesh, Road, SASEC, Transport

January 2019

India, Nepal Agree to Set Up Energy Bank

The Governments of India and Nepal have agreed to establish an energy banking mechanism that will enable both countries to trade electricity based on demand/supply, following recommendations of electricity authorities of both nations. The recently-held secretary-level Joint Working Group (JWG) Meeting recommended forming a joint technical team that will explore and make arrangements for bilateral energy banking.

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January 2019

Commentary: Smart Borders to Boost Trade in South Asia

This commentary from the Daily Star discusses how Bangladesh is working to ensure seamless connectivity in the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, and Nepal subregion. It also makes a case for the importance of enforcing regional transit agreement in South Asia to promote efficient movement of the goods, and reduce transaction costs and time.

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January 2019

Backgrounder: Border Haats Boost Ties between India-Bangladesh

Border haats or rural markets along the border of Bangladesh and India help to strengthen ties between the two countries, both culturally and economically. These border haats benefit local communities by providing opportunities for livelihood and social interaction.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bilateral Trade, India, Trade Facilitation

January 2019

SASEC Elevated Port Highway in Sri Lanka Gets ADB Support

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena and Mr. Takehiko Nakao, President, Asian Development Bank, signed three agreements, including a $300-million loan to construct about 5.3 kilometers of an elevated toll highway linking Colombo's international port and the country’s expressway network under the South Asian Subregional Economic Cooperation Port Access Elevated Highway Project.

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Tags: ADB, SASEC, Sri Lanka, Transport

January 2019

Inland Waterways to Strengthen Connectivity Between India and Southeast Asia

India is working to develop its inland waterways to increase economic connectivity with Southeast Asia. The project will connect India’s northeastern states with Bangladesh and Nepal and boost trade in the region as part of India’s Act East Policy.

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Tags: Inland waterways, India, Southeast Asia, Transport

January 2019

Promoting SASEC as a Tourist Destination

Promoting SASEC as a tourist destination is a flagship initiative identified in the SASEC Vision document. In line with this, the Asian Development Bank initiated a study that aims to design a framework for SASEC cooperation in tourism to fully harness this sector's immense potential and to lay down the groundwork for such cooperation.

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January 2019

India to Begin Operating Myanmar's Sittwe Port

Mr. Mansukh L. Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping, Road Transport and Chemical and Fertilizer, Government of India, informed the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) that the Sittwe Port in Myanmar is ready to operate. India will take over the operations of Sittwe Port, as agreed in the bilateral memorandum of understanding signed by the Governments of India and Myanmar. The Sittwe Port is part of the Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project, and was constructed with assistance from the G

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Tags: India, Myanmar, Bilateral Agreement