News List

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

May 2023

ADB Approves Loan for Nepal Project to Improve Road Connectivity and Trade

ADB approved a project loan to support upgrading work on the East–West Highway, which is part of the SASEC corridor. According to Ms. Sin Wai Chong, Transport Specialist for South Asia, ADB, the project will strengthen border trade and logistics, and will improve the lives of rural communities.

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Tags: Nepal, India, Bangladesh, SASEC, Road, ADB, South Asia

May 2023

ADB VP Highlights Role of SASEC

Mr. Shixin Chen, Vice-President for South Asia and Central and West Asia at ADB, spoke at the SASEC knowledge event entitled "Green, Efficient, and Resilient Logistics for Sustainable Growth," which was attended by policymakers from SASEC countries.

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Tags: South Asia, ADB, SASEC, Logistics

April 2023

SASEC Highway Improvement Project in Nepal Awarded for Excellence

The SASEC Highway Improvement Project was recognized for excellence in project management, gender and social inclusion, and environmental and social safeguards monitoring alongside other ADB projects by the Government of Nepal. Also awarded were Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Project, Bagmati River Basin Improvement Project-Additional Financing, Rural Enterprise Financing Project, and Power Transmission and Distribution Efficiency Enhancement.

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Tags: SASEC, Nepal, ADB, Road, South Asia, Energy

April 2023

Watch: Enhanced Road Connectivity Creates Opportunities in Nepal

Watch the video about how the Subregional Transport Enhancement Project creates economic opportunities to help provide access to social services. The project, committed in 2011, has expanded roads and gave rural communities access to one of Nepal's major trade corridors.

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Tags: ADB, Nepal, Road, SASEC, South Asia

July 2022

Commentary: More Power to You

Regional forums such as South Asia Forum for Infrastructure Regulation, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, and South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation bring together stakeholders and more local or regional institutions are needed to gain optimal benefit from regional cooperation. This commentary appears on the Dhaka Tribune.

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Tags: Energy, SASEC, SAARC, South Asia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal

July 2021

Commentary: India's Integrated Check Posts Are Boosting Regional Connectivity But Challenges Remain

Ms. Riya Sinha, researcher for Research Associate at the Centre for Social and Economic Progress, New Delhi, looks at the increasing trade and passenger movement between India and neighbors Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and examines Delhi's push for border infrastructure development. This is an excerpt from a piece that appears on The Print.

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Tags: India, Trade Facilitation, Trade Facilitation Agreement, Regional Integration, South Asia

May 2021

Commentary: The Post-pandemic Era Can Be a New Era for Asia's Roads, Too

Roads in Asia and the Pacific have been essential for the transport of supplies and services, frontline workers, food, and now vaccines. It is time to revive these vital arteries to prepare for economic recovery. This commentary appears on the Asia Development Blog.

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Tags: COVID-19, Road, South Asia

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

November 2019

ADB Forum Promotes Women in South Asia Energy Industry

The Asian Development Bank cohosted a forum to promote more women practitioners in South Asia’s energy sector. The forum is second in a series for Women in Power Sector Professional Network in South Asia, which aims to support women’s participation in energy projects and promote more women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

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Tags: ADB, Energy, Gender, South Asia

October 2019

Commentary: Let’s Make It Easier for Countries to Trade

Trade is one of the engines of Asia’s economic growth. Amid these challenging times for trade, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) supports trade reforms in Asia and the Pacific. In South Asia, ADB is supporting the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program to simplify trade documentation, promote automation in border agencies, develop a national single window platform, and develop trade-related infrastructure.

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Tags: National Single Window, SASEC, South Asia, Trade Facilitation Agreement, WTO

September 2018

Ranong Port to be Thailand's Gateway to South Asia

The Government of Thailand aims to increase bilateral trade with India by developing Ranong port. According to Mr. Tharadol Thongruang, Minister Counsellor (Commercial), Office of Commercial Affairs, Royal Thai Embassy in New Delhi, India, using Ranong port for trade with India’s Kolkata and Chennai ports will reduce distance between the two countries and boost trade.

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Tags: India, Thailand, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Ports, Shipping, Trade, Connectivity

March 2018

Watch: Foster Cooperation between SAARC and SASEC -SAARC SG

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Secretary General Amjad Hussain Sial met with ADB President Takehiko Nakao to discuss ways to increase cooperation between SAARC and ADB. Mr. Sial noted the prospects for better cooperation between SAARC and SASEC.

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Tags: Regional Cooperation, SAARC, ADB, SASEC, South Asia

February 2018

Commentary: The Missing Link

Deep integration is needed to generate economic growth in South Asia. By integrating trade in goods and services and transport facilities, South Asian countries will be able to better participate in global trade.

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Tags: Cooperation, South Asia, Trade, Transport, Economy

February 2018

Global Investors Summit Calls for Strengthening of ASEAN-South Asia Ties

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal called for the strengthening of business and economic ties among ASEAN and South Asian countries. He noted the strong historic and cultural ties among the countries and urged Southeast Asian countries to take advantage of investment opportunities in Assam in northeast India.

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Tags: ASEAN, Act East Policy, South Asia

December 2017

Asian Development Outlook Cites South Asia as Fastest Growing Subregion

Trade is lifting developing Asia’s growth, according to the Asian Development Bank Outlook (ADO) Supplement: A Firmer Growth Outlook for Asia. Despite downward revisions from previous projections, South Asia is still forecast to remain the fastest growing subregion in Asia and the Pacific.

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Tags: ADB, Development, South Asia

July 2017

ADB Forecasts Improved Growth for South Asia

Economic growth prospects in developing Asia for 2017 have improved on the back of stronger-than-expected export demand in the first quarter of this year, according to Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2017 Supplement. South Asia will remain the fastest growing of all subregions in Asia and the Pacific, with growth on track to meet projections of 7.0% in 2017.

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Tags: South Asia, ADB, India, Exports, Development

June 2017

Commentary: Promise and Flux in South Asian Electricity Trade

The Asia Foundation, in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry, is preparing a study on energy trade in the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal subregion, examining how market forces, networks, and stakeholders interact. In this commentary, Mr. Aditya Valiathan Pillai, program officer of the Asia Foundation in India, discusses the creation of an energy market in South Asia and the growing importance of regional electricity trade in helping mitigate carbon emissions.

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Tags: South Asia, BBIN, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Energy, Hydropower

April 2017

Bangladesh Wants to Be South Asia’s Transport Hub

Bangladesh has the potential to become a transport hub for India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Myamar, according to Mr. AMA Muhith, Finance Minister, Bangladesh. Turning Bangladesh into a regional and transshipment hub would enhance economic cooperation and result in collective economic growth for the countries, Mr. Muhith said at the SASEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi, India.

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

March 2017

Commentary: Boosting Trade Facilitation in Services

A fast-rising information technology-enabled services (ITES) is opening global opportunities for the millions of Indian college graduates that enter the workforce every year. In this article, Mr. Pritam Banergee, Senior Director for Corporate Public Policy (South Asia), Deutsche Post DHL, discusses the need for India’s government and businesses to focus on trade policy reform that ensure markets remain open for the ITES sector.

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

February 2017

Bhutan Prime Minister Meets Incoming ADB Country Director

Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay met Ms. Kanokpan Lao-Araya, incoming Country Director, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Bhutan Resident Mission, and Mr. Hun Kim, Director General, ADB South Asia Department in Thimphu, Bhutan, after presentation of Ms. Lao-Araya's credentials to Bhutan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Damcho Dorji. ADB is upgrading Bhutan from a representative office to full-country operations.

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Tags: ADB, Bhutan, Regional Cooperation, South Asia

January 2017

Davos 2017: Accelerating South Asia's Growth and Development through Regional Cooperation

The interactive session “Harnessing Regional Cooperation in South Asia” held at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum discussed how regional economic cooperation is helping accelerate growth and development. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasized continuous initiatives, in economic cooperation in South Asia, including SAFTA and SASEC. India Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman lauded initiatives to boost connectivity.

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Tags: South Asia, Regional Cooperation, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal

December 2016

SASEC Mini Dry Port Project to Help Ease Traffic in Phuentsholing, Bhutan

Two of three South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation project components are seeing progress in Bhutan. A planned mini dry port project aims to provide cargo and other commercial vehicles a route that avoids traffic jams in the border town of Phuentsholing. A 2.66-kilometer bypass will also be built to connect Bau Bazaar in Jaigon and the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway.

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Tags: ADB, Bhutan, Transport, Customs, Road, SASEC, South Asia

December 2016

4th Regional Customs Enforcement Meeting

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence under the Central Board of Excise and Customs organized the 4th Regional Customs Enforcement Meeting in New Delhi, India, as part of its Founding Day celebrations. The Heads of Customs Enforcement from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Mauritius and Maldives were invited to participate in the said Meeting, which discussed issues of mutual concern, noted the need to share information and activate channels of coordination.

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Tags: Customs, Trade Facilitation, South Asia, Regional Cooperation, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Trade

October 2016

Power Trade to Help South Asian Countries Save $9 Billion Annually, Reduce Emissions

South Asian countries should engage more in regional energy trade and joint management of resources. By doing so, they could save over $9 billion annually and reduce carbon emissions by 8%. And since energy drives development, energy cooperation and trade is expected to translate to improved standards of living and poverty reduction.

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Tags: Energy, Hydropower, South Asia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka

September 2016

13th SAARC Trade Fair Held in Thimphu

The 13th SAARC trade fair was held in Thimphu, Bhutan, to promote intra-regional trade and investment among SAARC countries. In his opening address, Mr. Lekey Dorji, Bhutan Economic Affairs Minister, underscored the importance of fostering business links among companies in the region to accelerate economic growth and improve people's well-being.

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

July 2016

SASEC Investment Projects Top $7.7 Billion

South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) investment projects increased to a cumulative $7.66 billion in the areas of transport, energy, trade facilitation, and ICT with the recent approval of India’s Bihar New Ganga Bridge Project. To date, 40 SASEC-supported projects are helping member countries strengthen regional connectivity infrastructure, promote economic growth, and foster regional cooperation. In addition, there are now 71 technical assistance projects worth $66.14 mi

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

July 2016

ADB Blog: Why Economic Corridor Development is the Way Forward for South Asia

The economic corridor development (ECD) strategy is an approach that integrates and synergizes industry, infrastructure, and urbanization through meticulous planning over a long-term horizon. An Asian Development Bank (ADB) blog post by Mr. Hoe Yun Jeong, Senior Economist (Regional Cooperation), South Asia Regional Department, published on 26 July 2016, shares how an ECD approach can be beneficial for the South Asia region.

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Tags: Economic corridor, India, Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor, South Asia, East Coast Economic Corridor, Economic Corridor Development, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka

July 2016

Blog: Is South Asia ready for a Regional Motor Vehicles Agreement?

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) signed a landmark Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) meant to allow smooth passage of goods and passenger vehicles in each other’s territories. In this blog post, Sanjay Kathuria, Lead Economist and Coordinator, South Asia Regional Integration, Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, World Bank, asks if South Asia is truly ready for such a regional agreement.

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Tags: South Asia, Transport, Trade Facilitation, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka

July 2016

Commentary: 800 Million Reasons

Mr. Hun Kim, Director General, South Asia Department, ADB, describes how partnership of 6 South Asian countries through the ADB-supported South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Program is helping propel economic growth in South Asia, amidst an uncertain regional and global economic climate, by working to increase trade volumes to reduce the number of impoverished people in the region.

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Tags: Regional Cooperation, South Asia, Energy, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka

April 2016

Economic Cooperation Dialogue Highlights Need for Transport Corridors

The Economic Cooperation Dialogue on Regional Connectivity and Border Special Development Zones in Eastern South Asia highlighted the importance of transport corridors to promote trade and economic cooperation in the region. Dr. Nagesh Kumar, Head, UNESCAP Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia, shared how developing transport corridors can turn constraints faced by the region's landlocked countries into opportunities.

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Tags: Trade, Transport, South Asia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal

April 2016

Commentary: Political Economy of Regional Integration: Where Do We Stand in South Asia?

Dr. Selim Reihan notes that drivers of political economy can impact the region's integration agenda. In this essay, Dr. Raihan highlights the importance of exploring the political economy of regional integration to generate a better assessment of the factors driving and constraining regional integration, and create broader awareness among stakeholders to stimulate a more realistic and effective regional policy design and processes.

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Tags: Economic corridor, Bhutan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, SAARC, SAFTA, Services, South Asia, Infrastructure, Trade Facilitation, Transport

December 2015

Celebrating 30 Years of SAARC

On 8 December 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Charter was signed by Heads of State/Government of SAARC Member States during the First SAARC Summit held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. SAARC promotes welfare economics, collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia, and accelerated socio-cultural development in the South Asia region.

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Tags: SAARC, Regional Cooperation, South Asia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka

December 2015

Commentary: South Asia Could Be Linchpin for Regional Integration

South Asia is set to play a strategic role in Asian integration. This commentary by Mr. Ganeshan Wignaraja, Advisor in the Asian Development Bank’s Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, shares how linking emerging South Asia with the more developed member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations will transform regional economies through development of regional connectivity, and create a huge regional market of 2-3 billion people.

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Tags: South Asia, Economic corridor, Development, ASEAN, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Tourism, manufacturing, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal

October 2015

SAARC CCI Develops SARCO to Resolve Trade Disputes in the Region

The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC-CCI) has developed a comprehensive mechanism to resolve SAARC trade disputes amicably through the SAARC Arbitration Council (SARCO). SARCO offers a fair mechanism, and guarantees thorough inquiry in the pursuit of legal solutions to conflicts.

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Tags: SAARC Arbitration Council, SAARC CCI, Trade, South Asia

October 2015

Historic Opportunity to Link South and Southeast Asia: ADB Brief

Regional integration between South and Southeast Asia remains relatively limited, hindered by various problems, including bottlenecks in transport infrastructure. Enhancements in road, railways, and port infrastructure, as well as new road and rail links between Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Thailand will lower unit transport costs, reduce shipping times, and increase the quantity of goods, all of which will lead to increased trade.

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Tags: Transport, Trade Facilitation, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Rail, Ports

July 2015

SASEC Region Trade Integration Indicators Updated

Integration indicators in the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) subregion have been updated to include 2014 data, based on calculations by the Asian Development Bank’s Asia Regional Integration Center. SASEC trade integration has continued to increase over 2012-2014, as shown by its Intra-regional Trade Intensity Index.

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Tags: South Asia, Trade, Trade Integration

May 2015

Potentially Large Gains from Enhanced South Asia-Southeast Asia Connectivity

The time is ripe to enhance economic integration between South Asia and Southeast Asia according to a joint study by the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank Institute. While cross-subregional trade has increased from $4 billion to $90 billion over a 23-year period, bottlenecks in infrastructure, financial markets, trade facilitation, trade barriers and regional cooperation continue to limit further improvement of economic ties.

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Tags: South Asia, Southeast Asia, Transport, Trade Facilitation

November 2014

SAARC Moves toward Multimodal Connectivity in South Asia

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries are currently working on six Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) that will link South Asia by rail, road, air and sea, to stimulate greater trade within the region.  This includes the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement and SAARC Regional Railways Agreement.

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Tags: Connectivity, South Asia, Transport

September 2014

Gender Dimensions of Regional Cooperation

The South Asia Department of Asian Development Bank (ADB) will host a validation forum on the Gender Dimensions of Regional Cooperation and Integration in South Asia, on 28-29 October 2014 at ADB Headquarters in Manila, Philippines. Results of two complementary studies (i) “Gender, Trade and Green Growth in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal” and (ii) “Gender and Safe Mobility: Promising Global and Regional Practices” will be presented.

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Tags: Gender, Regional Cooperation, South Asia

August 2014

Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia

Climate change alters the dynamic of energy security in South Asia with electricity demand projected to grow fourfold by 2030. Climate change adaptation and variability in the region renders most countries vulnerable. Access to energy services affects practically all aspects of sustainable development.

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Tags: South Asia, Energy, Climate Change

July 2014

Reducing Practical Barriers to Trade

The World Economic Forum's Global Enabling Trade Report: 2014 offers a tool to monitor progress on implementing measures for the Trade Facilitation Agreement. It provides insights on how countries in South Asia can significantly gain from the $1 trillion boost the Trade Facilitation Agreement is expected to bring to the global economy.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, Trade Policy, Poverty Reduction, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, South Asia, Trade Facilitation Agreement, Trade, WTO

May 2014

SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework 2014–2018 Endorsed by Members

SASEC countries Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal have endorsed the SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework 2014–2018 (TF Strategy) for implementation.  The TF Strategy supports the mission of the SASEC Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy “to promote the prosperity of the subregion by facilitating the efficient movement of trade across the borders”.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, Regional Cooperation, South Asia

January 2014

ADB Regional Cooperation Operations Business Plan (RCOBP) 2014-2016 for South Asia

ADB's third Regional Cooperation Operations Business Plan (RCOBP) 2014-2016 for South Asia under its South Asia Regional Cooperation Strategy (RCS) 2011-2015 details a cumulative indicative lending program of $3.3 billion and maintains focus on improved regional connectivity, increased cross-border trade, and strengthened regional economic cooperation.

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Tags: Regional Cooperation, South Asia, Infrastructure

November 2012

ADB Assisting South Asia to Reduce Trade Barriers

ADB is providing $48 million to help goods move more smoothly in and out of Bangladesh Bhutan and Nepal.

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Tags: ADB, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Customs, Nepal, SASEC, South Asia, Trade, Trade Facilitation

November 2012

SASEC Holds National Workshop on Revised Kyoto Convention

ADB's South Asia Regional Cooperation Divison and the World Customs Organization organized a workshop held in Thimpu Bhutan from 26-28 November to help prepare Bhutans accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention.

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Tags: Bhutan, Customs, Environment, SASEC, South Asia, Sustainability, Trade, Trade Facilitation

November 2012

SASEC Energy Officials Endorse Feasibility Studies for Transmission Investments

The SASEC energy working group agreed to conduct feasibility studies for three new priority large-scale cross-border transmission projects worth over $3 billion at a meeting on 9 November 2012 in Thimphu Bhutan.

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Tags: Bhutan, Energy, Investment, SASEC, South Asia

October 2012

Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2012

ADB in cooperation with UNESCAP organized the Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum (APTFF) held on 30-31 October 2012.

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Tags: ADB, Asia-Pacific, Development, Regional Cooperation, SASEC, South Asia, Sri Lanka, Trade Facilitation, UNESCAP

October 2012

South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Transmission Utility Forum

Many countries in the South Asia region face the challenges of energy shortages as they gear up for higher economic growth.

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Tags: Energy, Regional Cooperation, SASEC, South Asia, Sri Lanka

June 2012

SAARC Working Group on Reduction in the Sensitive Lists under SAFTA Phase III

The SAARC Working Group noted that under Phase II all member states had already reduced their respective Sensitive Lists by a minimum of 20%. Bhutan India and Maldives had made substantial reductions in their lists which in fact were significantly more than the previously mandated reduction level.

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Tags: Bhutan, Free Trade Agreement, India, Maldives, SAARC, SAFTA, South Asia, Trade

May 2012

SAARC Finance Ministers Meet in Manila

SAARC Finance Ministers met at an informal meeting in Manila on 3 May 2012 on the sidelines of the 45th ADB Annual Meeting.

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Tags: Economic cooperation, Regional Cooperation, ADB, Regional Integration, SAARC, South Asia, Trade

May 2012

SASEC Nodal Officials Meeting

The Nodal Officials of the SASEC Program met at the sidelines of the 45th ADB Annual Meeting in Manila on 3 May 2012.

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Tags: ADB, Energy, ICT, Regional Cooperation, SASEC, South Asia, Trade Facilitation, Transport

April 2012

Historic Deal Between India and Pakistan

Issues resolved surrounding trade grievances mutual recognition and customs agreements are expected to facilitate bilateral trade between the two countries.

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Tags: Bilateral Trade, Customs, India, South Asia, Trade, Trade Facilitation

March 2012

Kunming Conference

About 160 officials from 30 countries participated in the ADB conference on RCI held on 26-27 March in the PRC.

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Tags: ADB, Climate Change, Economic corridor, Environment, Regional Cooperation, Regional Integration, South Asia, Sustainability, Transport, Trade Facilitation