News List

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

June 2018

SARSO Sets Regulatory Standards for Biscuits, Refined Sugar, and Milk Products

Member nations of SAARC have agreed on common standards for biscuits, refined sugar, and milk products. The South Asian Regional Standards Organization (SARSO) has set regulatory standards for these three products, including requirements related to packaging, marking, labeling, and sampling of biscuits and refined sugar, as well as production, processing, and handling of milk and milk products.

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Tags: SARSO, SAARC, Harmonization, Trade, Standards Harmonization

May 2018

Bhutan Holds First National Standards Conclave

The Bhutan Standards Bureau (BSB) hosted the first National Standards Conclave in Thimphu to highlight the importance of standardization among different stakeholders. The Conclave aimed to help chart the direction and objectives of standard setting in the country. The absence of national standards hinders Bhutan from being a party to a regional standards body such as the South Asian Regional Standards Organization (SARSO), and other standards organization.

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Tags: Bhutan, Standards Harmonization, Trade

April 2018

India, Nepal Review Trade and Transit Treaties

The Governments of India and Nepal held an India-Nepal Inter-Governmental Committee Meeting on Trade, Transit, and Cooperation to Control Unauthorised Trade, led by Commerce Secretaries of the two Governments. They discussed bilateral trade, transit, and economic relations, and agreed to conclude measures to further improve bilateral trade and investment ties.

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Tags: India, Nepal, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Transit, Inland waterways, Standards Harmonization

March 2018

SAARC Member Countries Pledge to Set a Common Standard for Chemicals and Chemical Products

SAARC held a meeting on 26-27 March 2018 to discuss development of regional standards for chemicals and chemical products. Participants expressed a commitment to develop a common standard for the region and remove standards-related barriers hindering growth of trade among SAARC countries.

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Tags: Standards Harmonization, SAARC, SARSO

July 2017

India Calls for Raising Cross-border Trade with Bangladesh

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

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Tags: India, Bangladesh, Standards Harmonization, Trade

July 2017

Commentary: Standards Need Continuous Updating

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

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

June 2017

Commentary: Improving Regulatory Standards for Export Diversification

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

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

May 2017

India, Bangladesh to Gradually Remove NTBs

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

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

March 2017

Bangladesh, Bhutan Commerce Secretaries Discuss Trade Promotion

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

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

March 2017

Three Common Standards for SAARC Finalized

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

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Tags: SAARC, SARSO, Bangladesh, Standards Harmonization

October 2016

India Expands Scope of ATA Carnet

India's Central Board of Excise and Customs announced an expansion of scope of India's ATA Carnet facility to include duty-free and tax-free temporary admission of goods for private exhibitions, trade fairs, and meetings. This initiative will contribute effectively to the Government's program to improve the country's 'Ease of Doing Business', and make India a prime destination for international events, conventions, and exhibitions.

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Tags: India, Trade Facilitation, Standards Harmonization

August 2016

Commentary: Is Regional Product Standard at All Feasible?

Absence of a harmonized system of standards among South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) members is one reason for the increase of technical barriers to trade, giving rise to non-tariff barriers that hamper SAARC intra-regional trade. A commentary by Mr. Wasi Ahmed, a former senior trade diplomat, discusses the growing recognition of importance of harmonized regional standards within SAARC.

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

June 2016

Bhutan Standards Bureau Obtains Accreditation to Certify 3 Goods for Export

The Bhutan Standards Bureau received accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies, India to certify three products, including grade 43 ordinary Portland cement, bitumen emulsion, and thermomechanically treated reinforcement bars, for export. This reduces technical barriers to trade, facilitating free movement for these three types of products across Bhutanese borders.

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Tags: Bhutan, Standards Harmonization, SAARC, Trade Facilitation

June 2016

Bhutan Parliament Passes New Customs Bill

The 7th Session of the Second Parliament of Bhutan passed the new Customs Bill on 7 June 2016. The Bill was drafted according to standards of the Revised Kyoto Convention, and aims to simplify and harmonize Customs procedures in the country and introduce international best practices in Customs. It aims to promote external trade, including trade with countries in the SAARC region, and bring increased revenue through risk management and automation.

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Tags: Bhutan, Customs, Standards Harmonization, Trade

May 2016

Bangladesh Cabinet Endorses the Draft Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution Law 2016

A meeting of the Bangladesh Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has approved in principle the draft Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution Law 2016. The updated law includes an adjusted definition of "standards" from "foreign standards" to "international standards."

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Tags: Bangladesh, Standards Harmonization, Technical Barriers to Trade

May 2016

SARSO Conducts Workshop on Harmonizing Standards in Bhutan

A workshop on harmonizing standards in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region was held by the South Asian Regional Standards Organization (SARSO) in Bhutan. Mr. Tashi Wangchuk, Deputy Director, SARSO, emphasized the importance of Bhutan Standards Bureau's technical committees participating in SARSO's Sectoral Technical Committees.

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Tags: SARSO, Bhutan, Standards Harmonization, Trade Facilitation, SAARC

May 2016

Bangladesh-Nepal Commerce Secretary-level Meeting Move to Increase Bilateral Trade

A bilateral meeting led by Bangladesh Senior Commerce Secretary Hedayetullah Al Mamoon and Nepal Commerce Secretary Naindra Prasad Upadhyay initiated a number of measures to expand trade volume between the two countries, including removal of technical barriers to trade, harmonization of sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and preferential market access for 158 products.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Nepal, Trade, Standards Harmonization, Technical Barriers to Trade

January 2016

SARSO Agrees Standards on 6 Products

A set of regionally agreed standards for 6 products, including sugar and cotton, in South Asia has been finalized by the South Asian Regional Standards Organization (SARSO), in response to the need to ease regional trade by harmonizing standards on key goods. SARSO aims to complete issuing formal notifications on these 6 products by March, to will allow goods marked 'compliant' to SARSO's standard and testing regulations to be exported to any SAARC county without need for laboratory testing.

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Tags: Standards Harmonization, Trade Facilitation, SAARC, SARSO, Sri Lanka

March 2015

SAARC to Finalize Standards Harmonization

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries are finalizing mutually acceptable standards in five sectors: food and agricultural products, jute, textile and leather, building materials, chemicals and chemical products, and electrical and electronic products. These sectors have significant trade interest for member countries.

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Tags: SAARC, Trade Facilitation, Standards Harmonization