News List

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

Year:
November 2017

Amending India’s Electricity Act Could Enhance Trade with SAARC Countries

An Asian Development Bank report suggests that a shift in India’s electricity policy could help address the acute electricity shortages faced by SAARC countries, which affects socioeconomic development as well as business operations. Policy amendments could help facilitate cross-border power trade among SAARC countries and give communities better access to electricity.

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

October 2017

Fourth India-Bangladesh JCC Meeting Discusses Progress of Key Bilateral Initiatives

Ms. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, India, and Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Foreign Minister, Bangladesh, co-chaired the Fourth India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) Meeting, reviewing progress on key initiatives and decisions in areas including trade and investment, security, connectivity, border management, power, energy, shipping, and people-to-people exchanges.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Connectivity, Energy, Hydropower, Trade, Investment

October 2017

CBEC Pilots Paperless Processing of Documents

India's Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) piloted paperless processing of documents in Chennai and New Delhi to promote the ease of doing business. CBEC's newest facility enables digitally signed supporting documents to be uploaded to further reduce clearance time.

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Tags: Trade, India, Customs

October 2017

India Foreign Secretary Discusses Trade and Energy Cooperation with Bhutan Leaders

Mr. S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary, India, met with Bhutan top leaders to discuss trade and economic ties, energy cooperation, and the implementation of India-assisted projects in Bhutan.

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Tags: Bhutan, Energy, Hydropower, India, Trade

September 2017

Chamber of Commerce Formed to Increase Trade between India and Myanmar

India has formed the India-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce (IMCC) in Yangon to increase trade between the two countries, which currently stands at around $2 billion. IMCC intends to focus on helping Indian businesses invest in Myanmar and vice versa.

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Tags: Agriculture, Exports, Imports, India, Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Small and Medium Enterprises, Thailand, Trade, Transport

September 2017

Roundtable Urges Increased India-Myanmar Connectivity, Trade

A roundtable discussion held in Myanmar noted the need to substantially increase connectivity, trade and diplomatic relations between Myanmar and India. Officials from the two countries participated in the India-Myanmar Dialogue: Act East Policy and India-Myanmar Relations, held on 2 September 2017 in Yangon, Myanmar. The forum was organized by Parami Roundtable and Mizzima Media Group.

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Tags: ASEAN, BIMSTEC, Connectivity, India, Myanmar, Trade

August 2017

Commentary: Overcoming NTBs for Exports to India

This commentary by Ms. Ferdaus Ara, Chief Executive Officer, Business Initiative Leading Development, examines the effect of non-tariff barriers to trade on Bangladesh-India exports by discussing the restriction on imports of tomato from Bangladesh. While exporting tomato from Bangladesh would benefit Indian consumers, policies in India, including the Plant Quarantine Order on Regulations of Import 2003, need to be amended.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Tariffs, Trade

August 2017

Bangladesh to Export Bandwidth to Bhutan, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam

Bangladesh plans to export 102.5 gigabit per second of bandwidth to its neighbors, Bhutan, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Negotiations are ongoing to enable 2.5 Gb per second of bandwidth export to Bhutan through India’s Power Grid Corporation of India Limited's fiber optic cable.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, ICT, Trade

August 2017

BIMSTEC Seeks Stronger Ties and Cooperation

The 18th session of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Senior Officials' Meeting and the 15th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting stressed the importance of cooperation in energy, technology, trade, and transport, through a revitalized, more integrated, and stronger BIMSTEC process. The Joint Statement underscored the need to finalize the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Agreement.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, Nepal, Bangladesh, Regional Cooperation, Energy, Technology, Trade, Transport, Free Trade Agreement

August 2017

Bangladesh to Improve Four Land Ports Crucial to Trade with India

The Government of Bangladesh will develop four land ports as part of its initiatives to increase trade and commerce with India. Around $85.2 million was approved by Bangladesh's Executive National Economic Council to improve the Sheola, Bhomra, and Ramgarh land ports. Another project will be undertaken to modernize security at Benapole land port.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Ports, SASEC, Trade

July 2017

New Agreement on Trade, Commerce, and Transit between India and Bhutan Comes into Force

The new Agreement on Trade, Commerce, and Transit between India and Bhutan has come into force beginning 29 July 2017. It provides for a free trade regime between the territories of India and Bhutan, and allows duty free transit of Bhutanese goods for trade with third countries.

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Tags: India, Bhutan, Trade, Free Trade Agreement, Transit Facilitation, Transport

July 2017

SAARC Countries Urged to Focus on Removing Non-tariff Barriers

Mr. Younus Dagha, Federal Secretary of Commerce, Pakistan, has urged the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries to focus on removing non-tariff barriers to strengthen trade in the region. The region holds immense trade and investment potential, being home to 21% of the world's population.

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Tags: SAARC CCI, Investments, Trade, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India

July 2017

ADB to Help Nepal Modernize Trade Facilitation

The Asian Development Bank has approved a $21 million loan to support the Government of Nepal’s efforts to simplify, harmonize, and modernize the country’s trade processes, under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation. The program will help the country to promote and diversify exports, and help it fulfill its commitments to international customs standards.

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Tags: ADB, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Nepal

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

June 2017

BBIN Intraregional Trade On the Rise

The International Trade Centre's Trade Map reports an increase in intraregional trade in the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) subregion in 2016, from $21.65 billion in 2015 to $23.52 billion. The ratio of BBIN intraregional trade to world trade went up from 2.98% in 2015 to 3.34% in 2016.

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Tags: BBIN, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Transport, Energy, Trade

May 2017

SAARC Finance Ministers Meet in Yokohama, Japan

Finance ministers and senior officials of member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka met on 5 May at Yokohama, Japan, at the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) 50th Annual General Meeting.

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Tags: ADB, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Central Asia, Climate Change, Energy, India, Maldives, Nepal, Policy, Regional Cooperation, SAARC, SASEC, Sri Lanka, Trade, Transport

April 2017

India, Sri Lanka Sign MoU for Cooperation in Economic Projects

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited India on 25-29 April 2017, for discussion with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a range of bilateral issues and matters of mutual interest. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe welcomed the signing of the MoU for Cooperation in Economic Projects, which outlines the agenda for bilateral economic cooperation.

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Tags: India, Sri Lanka, Infrastructure, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Transport

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

SASEC Program Is Now on Facebook

SASEC is now on Facebook, connecting followers to the most up-to-date news on regional cooperation in South Asia, SASEC events, project information, and publications that are all featured daily on www.sasec.asia. To follow SASEC on Facebook, simply click here; then click “Like” at the top of the Facebook page.

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Tags: SASEC, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Regional Cooperation, Trade, Economic cooperation

March 2017

Nepal Government Ministries Urged to Collaborate to Manage Widening Export Gap

Low exports and rising imports are causing exponential growth in Nepal's trade deficit, according to Nepal’s Minister of Commerce, and he urged ministries, agencies, and the private sector to collaborate to bridge Nepal's widening export gap. The Ministry of Commerce has prioritized initiatives to promote Nepal's productive capacity.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Trade

March 2017

India-Myanmar Border "Haats" Performing Well

Informal trading in the Northeast region's border 'haats' (rural markets) between India and Myanmar is doing very well, reported Mr. Najib Shah, Chairman of India's Central Board of Excise and Customs. The Government of India is considering opening more border haats to promote trade ties with its neighbors.

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Tags: India, Myanmar, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Connectivity

March 2017

BIMSTEC Roundtable Stresses Need to Resolve Border-Related Trade Barriers

The Eighth BIMSTEC Roundtable Meeting tackled “Rewriting the Rulebook of Regional Connectivity,” emphasizing the need to resolve border-related trade barriers through coordination of government policies across Asia, including Customs procedures and clearance of goods, to unlock the vibrancy of the Asian Highway and reduce the cost of doing business.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, Trade, Customs, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, ICT, Nepal, Transport, Ease of Doing Business

February 2017

Speech: Making Trade More Inclusive

Amidst the rising debate against trade and globalization, World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevêdo argues against increasing protectionism and emphasizes how trade has proven its worth in development benefits. He remarks how trade can become more inclusive, with gains shared across society.

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Tags: Trade, Development, Employment, Globalization, Trade Facilitation, Protectionism

February 2017

India-Myanmar Trade Increases to $22 Million

Bilateral trade between India and Myanmar increased from nearly $11.9 million in 2013-2014 to around $22.2 million in 2015-2016, according to India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry. India's Act East Policy was instrumental in promoting trade growth between the two countries, deepening economic cooperation and expanding trade through India's Northeast region.

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Tags: Act East Policy, India, Myanmar, Trade, Transport

February 2017

India, Nepal Bilateral Meeting Discusses Operational Modality of New Transmission Lines

The Governments of India and Nepal discussed how to bring transmission line projects—the Dhalkebar (Nepal)-Muzaffarpur (India) transmission line, Raxaul (India)-Parwanipur (Nepal) transmission line, and Kataiya (India)-Kushaha (Nepal) transmission line—into operation. They agreed to increase the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur transmission line to 220 kVa capacity in May 2017, and begin electricity import through the Raxaul-Parwanipur and Kataiya-Kushaha transmission line.

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Tags: India, Nepal, Energy, Transmission, Hydropower, Trade, Electricity

February 2017

Indian Business Leaders Look to Strengthen Trade to Drive Job Creation

Indian business leaders met with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevêdo to discuss the future of the global trading system. The roundtable meeting, hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce and attended by over 50 senior representatives from various sectors, focused on trade reforms to strengthen inclusive growth and other world trade developments.

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Tags: India, Employment, Services, Trade, Trade Facilitation, WTO

January 2017

Railway Network Linking India and its Neighbors Under Consideration

A railway network linking India and its neighboring countries, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal, is being considered by the Government of India, according to India Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. Developing railway connectivity will increase employment, interaction, trade, and tourism.

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Tags: India, Rail, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Tourism, Employment

January 2017

India to Sign Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods

India is set to join the Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR), or International Road Transport Convention in its bid to establish seamless trade connectivity with Southeast Asia and Eurasian countries. Through the TIR Convention, India could access Eurasia via the International North-South Transport Corridor. TIR would also give India an advantage in trade with fellow signatories of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Connectivity, Customs, Economic corridor, Harmonization, Motor Vehicles Agreement, Road, Roads, Trade Facilitation, Trade, Transport, BBIN

January 2017

APTA Member Countries Move to Boost Trade in the Region

Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, South Korea, and Sri Lanka, member countries of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), moved to expand trade and boost growth in the region by agreeing to increase the number of products under preferential tariff treatment to 10,677 items from 4,270 at the 4th session of the APTA Ministerial Council.

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Tags: Asia-Pacific, Bangladesh, Development, Regional Cooperation, Services, Sri Lanka, Sustainability, Tariffs, Trade, Trade Facilitation, UNESCAP, India

January 2017

Second India-Bhutan Joint Working Group on Customs Held in Thimphu

The Second India-Bhutan Joint Working Group on Customs highlighted the possibility of facilitating bilateral trade in select land Customs stations along Bhutan-India borders; and discussed streamlining Customs procedures and document requirements at entry and exit points. It also agreed to open three more trading points between Bhutan and India, and discussed issues including development of Goods and Service Tax in India.

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Tags: India, Bhutan, Customs, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Bilateral Agreement

January 2017

Bangladesh, Sri Lanka Discuss Bilateral Free Trade Deal

The new Bangladesh High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Mr. Riaz Hamidullah called on Sri Lanka Finance Minister, Mr. Ravi Karunanayake to discuss a potential Bangladesh-Sri Lanka free trade agreement. The Meeting emphasized benefits to be gained by both countries from this type of agreement.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Trade, Free Trade Agreement

December 2016

Commentary: Bhutan and Nepal: Two "Least Developed Nations" that Could Change Face of Asia

Least Developed Countries (LDCs) comprise around 880 million people yet account for less than 2% of the world gross domestic product. South Asian countries can accelerate economic development and graduate from the LDC category by working with each other. The economic future of their people could change radically through collaboration between the countries and lift millions of people out of poverty.

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Tags: Bhutan, Nepal, BBIN, Connectivity, Energy, SAARC, Sri Lanka, Trade, UNCTAD

December 2016

Commentary: Bangladesh Inching towards Paperless Trade

Bangladesh has adopted the mantra "Digital Bangladesh" in its push to reduce trade costs, by implementing paperless trade through an electronic system. The country has already launched an online trade portal; the Central Bank is successfully conducting electronic transactions; and the National Board of Revenue has also enhanced its paperless capacity. Asjadul Kibria, Bangladeshi economic journalist, provides the following commentary.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Customs, Single Window, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Trade Facilitation Agreement, WTO

December 2016

Commentary: Nepal Hydropower to Bring Economic, Social, and Environmental Benefits

Nepal’s hydropower potential could be realized with an efficient technological base, entrepreneurial vision, a coordinated power trading approach, and sustained investment commitment. Hydropower development would bring economic, social, and environmental benefits in Nepal and the rest of the South Asian region. In this speech delivered at the Power Summit, Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal vowed to support domestic and foreign investors through a policy encouraging investment.

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Tags: Development, Energy, Hydropower, India, Investment, Nepal, Private Sector, Regional Cooperation, Trade

December 2016

ADB Strategic Climate Fund Boosts the Nepal SASEC Power System Expansion Project Fund

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved an additional $20 million for the SASEC Power System Expansion Project in Nepal, to be provided by the ADB Strategic Climate Fund. This additional financing will support installation of utility-scale solar photovoltaic systems by 2018. The Government of Nepal is also providing complementary funding of $24.5 million.

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Tags: Energy, Nepal, Trade, Hydropower, ADB, SASEC, Climate Change, Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Regional Cooperation, Regional Integration, Solar Energy, India

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

December 2016

India Ministry of Power Issues Guidelines on Cross-Border Trade of Electricity

India's Ministry of Power has issued Guidelines on Cross-Border Trade of Electricity, with the aim of facilitating cross-border trade of electricity between India and its neighboring countries; promoting transparency, consistency and predictability in regulatory approaches across jurisdictions and minimizing perceptions of regulatory risk; and developing reliable grid operation and transmission of electricity across borders.

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Tags: India, Energy, Hydropower, SAARC, Trade

December 2016

SASEC Roads Improvement Project to Boost Nepal's Transport Connectivity and Export Competitiveness

The Asian Development Bank has approved a loan for $187 million to Nepal for the SASEC Roads Improvement Project, which will upgrade transport connectivity and bring transformational gains by making social services more accessible, opening up previously untapped economic opportunities, and supporting trade between Nepal and India.

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Tags: SASEC, Transport, Nepal, Connectivity, ADB, Services, Trade

November 2016

New India-Bhutan Bilateral Trade Agreement Signed

The new India-Bhutan Trade, Commerce and Transit Agreement was signed on 12 November 2016 in Thimphu, Bhutan. The bilateral Agreement focuses on promoting trade between the two countries through trade facilitation, improving trade procedures, and adding exit and entry points to facilitate Bhutan's third-country trade.

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Tags: Bhutan, India, Trade Facilitation, Trade, LLDC

November 2016

Bangladesh, Sri Lanka to Sign a Free Trade Agreement

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have agreed to sign a free trade agreement to enhance bilateral trade between the two countries. This decision came out of of the Fifth Joint Economic Cooperation Session between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and reflects an eagerness of both countries to improve trade volumes.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Trade, Free Trade Agreement, Exports, Imports

November 2016

Online Alert System for SPS/TBT Notifications Launched

EPing, an online alert system for updates on the latest information on regulatory requirements for international trade, was launched by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the World Trade Organization, and the International Trade Centre. The system enables access to WTO member notifications on TBT and SPS measures, and facilitates dialogue among the public and private sector in the early stages of potential trade issues.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, Technical Barriers to Trade, Sanitary and Phytosanitary, Trade, WTO, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka

November 2016

Conference Promotes Paperless Trade Implementation in Sri Lanka

A conference held by the Sri Lanka Press Institute highlighted how enabling paperless trade will improve Sri Lanka's business competitiveness, and help the country achieve its ambition of becoming a regional logistics hub by enhancing its international trade processes.

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Tags: Sri Lanka, Trade, Trade Facilitation, ICT

November 2016

New MoU to Expand Border Haats in Bangladesh and India

The Governments of Bangladesh and India are preparing a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to expand their agreement on Bangladesh-India border ‘haats’ (markets). The MOU extends the provision to operate border haats to five years, increases the number of vendors allowed, and sets a $200 purchase limit per person.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Trade, Border Haat

October 2016

Nepal Commerce Minister Stresses Implementation of BIMSTEC FTA, BTILS

Mr. Romi Gauchan Thakali, Minister for Commerce, Nepal, emphasized the need to finalize and implement the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Free Trade Area (FTA) Framework Agreement, to help boost growth among least developed and developing nations in South and Southeast Asia. He also highlighted implementation of the BIMSTEC Transport Infrastructure and Logistics Study.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, Trade, Nepal, Transport

October 2016

Maldives-Thailand Joint Trade Committee Agree to Expand Bilateral Trade and Investment

The Second Meeting of Maldives-Thailand Joint Trade Committee agreed to increase bilateral trade and investment between the two countries, and pursue cooperation in tourism, fishing, labor, and health. The Government of Maldives also agreed to lift tariffs on imported goods from Thailand.

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Tags: Maldives, Thailand, Trade

September 2016

ADB Approves $1.5 Billion Railway Project for Bangladesh

The Asian Development Bank has approved a multitranche loan of $1.5 billion to the Government of Bangladesh for construction of a key section of the Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar railway line—the largest ever investment in railways by ADB. The new line will improve Bangladesh’s access to Myanmar and beyond, facilitate trade, and boost tourism in southeastern Bangladesh.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Myanmar, Rail, Connectivity, Transport, Trade, Tourism

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

September 2016

Agricultural Value Chains can be Game Changer for India-Bangladesh Trade

A seminar organized by CUTS International has recommended promotion of regional value chains in agriculture between India and Bangladesh. A recent CUTS International study revealed huge opportunities for trade in agricultural produce: for example, in Tripura, India, produce sourced from Indian states can be easily imported from nearby areas of Bangladesh at a much faster time and for less cost.

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Tags: India, Bangladesh, Trade

September 2016

Customs-free BBIN Borders to Cut Time, Cost for Traders

Customs-free borders for Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal will save time and money for importers and exporters and thereby increase the ease of doing business, according to an executive of the Federation of Indian Exporters Organisation (FIEO). Because goods no longer have to be unloaded at the border, trucks can easily cross borders, reducing time and logistics costs for both buyer and seller.

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Tags: BBIN, Customs, Trade, Motor Vehicles Agreement, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India

September 2016

National Single Window to Simplify Bangladesh Cross-border Trade

The Government of Bangladesh will establish a National Single Window to simplify cross-border trade procedures and improve Bangladesh's ease of doing business. The System will facilitate import, export, and transit transactions using an electronic portal that links all relevant agencies for cross-border trade.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade, Trade Facilitation

September 2016

Bangladesh to Sign FTA, Coastal Shipping Deal with Sri Lanka

Bangladesh is set to sign a free trade agreement and a coastal shipping deal with Sri Lanka to boost trade and investments between the two countries. A Joint Study Group will be formed to accelerate development of the coastal shipping agreement, for which standard operating procedures are being drafted.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Trade, Free Trade Agreement

September 2016

SAARC Ministers Push for Economic Union

Finance Ministers from the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member states are pushing for the formation of a South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) to ensure larger inflow of investments, higher trade volumes, and energy generation. The ministers highlighted the need to fast-track the formation of the SAEU to help boost the inflow of investments and trade volumes.

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Tags: SAEU, SAARC, Trade, Energy, Trade Facilitation, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal

August 2016

SAARC Finance Ministers Meeting Focuses on Trade, Taxation

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Finance Ministers’ Meeting focused on improving trade relations among member nations. Discussions revolved around economic issues, Customs unions, avoidance of double taxation, improving connectivity, increasing trade volume, and developing supply chain linkages.

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Tags: SAARC, India, Trade, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Connectivity, Customs, SASEC, Trade

August 2016

SAARC Finance Ministers Meeting Focuses on Trade, Taxation

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Finance Ministers’ Meeting focused on improving trade relations among member nations. Discussions revolved around economic issues, Customs unions, avoidance of double taxation, improving connectivity, increasing trade volume, and developing supply chain linkages.

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Tags: SAARC, India, Trade, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Connectivity, Customs, SASEC, Trade

August 2016

Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry Signs MoUs with Bangladesh Private Sector

The Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI) undertook a 6-day visit to Bangladesh, and met with the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), to look into economic opportunities India and Bangladesh could tap. SGCCI signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with DCCI and CCCI, to explore new areas of cooperation and boost bilateral trade relations.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Private Sector, Trade

August 2016

Joint Trade Commission Initiates Enhanced Bhutan-Thailand Economic Relations

The Bhutan-Thailand Joint Trade Commission held its first meeting on 24-25 August 2016 in Thimphu, Bhutan, to discuss ways to increase bilateral trade and improve economic cooperation. Ms. Apiradi Tantrapon, Minister for Commerce, Thailand, emphasized that implementing the 2013 bilateral trade and economic cooperation agreement is key to strengthening economic relations.

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Tags: Bhutan, Thailand, Trade

August 2016

ASEAN India Business Council for Trade Expansion, Greater Connectivity with India

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) India Business Council (AIBC) called for opening of trade between India's northeastern states and the ASEAN region, in a meeting with India Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. AIBC also sought to finalize the ASEAN-India Transit Transport Agreement before completion of the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway.

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Tags: India, Trade, Transport, ASEAN

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

August 2016

Speech: Increasing Sri Lanka's Export Competitiveness

Ongoing negotiations for the proposed Sri Lanka-India Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) are addressing many of the existing procedural barriers and delays Sri Lankan exporters face in Indian ports of entry. In this speech, Mr. Malik Samarawickrama, Sri Lanka Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, discusses measures included in the Government's economic reform agenda, including ETCA.

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Tags: Sri Lanka, Trade, Exports, India

August 2016

Bangladesh Seeks to Deepen Ties with ASEAN

Bangladesh is seeking to become a dialogue partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to deepen Bangladesh-ASEAN economic, political, and cultural connectivity. Formalization of ties will promote trade flow, investment, and cultural exchanges between South and Southeast Asia, emphasized Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Southeast Asia, ASEAN, Trade

August 2016

India Promoting Product Access to Boost Exports

The Government of India is taking steps to boost the country’s exports by promoting access to new products, and expanding market access initiatives and market development schemes. India is promoting product standards, providing a facility for duty-free import of machinery for production of goods for export, and helping in the packaging and branding of Indian-made products.

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Tags: India, Exports, Trade

July 2016

India Improving Relations with SAARC States

The Indian Prime Minister is prioritizing stronger relations with South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries. Deputy High Commissioner of India JP Singh said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking steps to improve trade relations with SAARC member states, citing the liberalization of India’s visa regime for the business community.

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Tags: India, SAARC, Trade, Business, Visa

July 2016

India, Sri Lanka to Fast-track ETCA Negotiations

The Governments of India and Sri Lanka have agreed to fast-track negotiations on the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement, with the aim of concluding talks by end 2016. A meeting between Indian and Sri Lankan officials is set in August 2016, where discussions may include removal of technical barriers to trade hampering Sri Lankan exports to India.

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Tags: India, Sri Lanka, Trade

July 2016

Investment Board Nepal Endorses Energy Demand and Supply Study

The 24th meeting of the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) endorsed the "National Energy Demand and Supply Study," which was undertaken to address the issue of latent demand and come up with a more realistic demand forecast for energy. According to the study, Nepal's energy demand will reach around 10,000 megawatts by 2030. Electricity will also have a dominant share of energy in Nepali households.

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Tags: Energy, Trade, Nepal

July 2016

Three Member Countries Designate Areas for SAARC Industrial Parks

Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), have stepped up their support for the proposed SAARC Industrial Parks by allocating lands for the planned initiative. Designated areas include Chittagong, Bangladesh; Gujarat, India; and Faisalabad City, Pakistan.

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Tags: SAARC, Trade, Private Sector, Bangladesh, India

July 2016

Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and India Jointly Dedicate Largest South Asia Land Customs Station

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina jointly inaugurated the Petrapole Integrated Checkpost (ICP). Prime Minister Modi lauded the event as an important milestone in India-Bangladesh relations, providing a boost to bilateral connectivity and trade, while Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina expressed hope that the ICP will further enhance good relations between the two countries

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Tags: India, Bangladesh, Customs, Trade, Trade Facilitation

July 2016

India's CBEC to Speed Up Cargo Clearances through Paperless System

India's Central Board of Excise and Customs is working to fast-track cargo clearance to hours, instead of days, through implementation of a paperless system for cargo clearance. The Government of India aims to fully digitize Customs clearance, replacing physical documentation, by 2017.

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Tags: India, Customs, Trade

July 2016

Business Leaders Call for Industrial Zone in Panchagarh, Bangladesh

Business leaders at the recent Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Business Forum and Expo said they want to see an industrial zone in Panchagarh, Bangladesh, as this would be close to Biratnagar in Nepal, Phuntsholing in Bhutan, and Siliguri in India.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade, Transport

July 2016

BBIN Business Forum: Time to Change Mindset on Economic Cooperation

The BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) is making it easier for passengers and freight vehicles in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal to travel around the region. BBIN finalized the MVA in an effort to facilitate cross-border trade and travel in South Asia. A BBIN Business Forum sees energy and water cooperation playing a vital role in taking integration even further in the region.

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Tags: India, Trade, Trade Facilitation, Transport, BBIN

June 2016

Bangladesh Prime Minister: Good Ties with Neighbors, Connectivity to Boost Trade

Good relations, regional connectivity, and cooperation among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) countries boost trade and business in South Asia, said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on 18 June 2016.

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Tags: Cooperation, Bangladesh, Trade, BBIN

June 2016

India, Thailand to Increase Trade through Trade Agreement

India and Thailand have agreed to speed up talks on the India-Thailand Free Trade Agreement and bilateral investment treaty. The two countries also agreed to fast-track infrastructure projects linking each other, such as the Asian Trilateral Highway connecting India and Thailand through Myanmar.

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Tags: India, Thailand, Myanmar, Free Trade Agreement, Trade

June 2016

Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka Look Into Setting up Trade Portals

Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka have expressed interest in adopting best practices of the Indian Trade Portal in setting up their own trade portals to promote international trade. Trade portals to be set up by Bhutan and Nepal will also be useful for cargo being routed through India, and will contribute to the common documentation system needed to implement the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement.

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Tags: Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Trade Portal, Trade Facilitation, SASEC, Customs, Trade

June 2016

Sri Lanka Trade Minister Sees Need for Comprehensive Trade Agreements

Sri Lanka needs to immediately put in place a comprehensive system of trade agreements, says Mr. Malik Samarawickram, Sri Lanka Minister for International Trade. In a business forum in Singapore, Mr. Samarawickram highlighted Sri Lanka's efforts to remove certain tariffs and to modernize its Customs system through ASYCUDA and the one-stop shop at the Central Customs Clearance Unit.

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Tags: Trade, Sri Lanka, Exports, Ports

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

June 2016

SAARC CCI and SAARC Development Fund to Co-finance Projects

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Development Fund (SDF) and SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry have pledged to collaborate and co-finance projects under the SDF's social, economic and infrastructure windows to promote regional connectivity across the SAARC region.

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Tags: SAARC CCI, SAARC, Regional Cooperation, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Trade, Transport

June 2016

Indian Entrepreneurs Invest in Bangladesh, Create 63,277 Jobs

Indian entrepreneurs have invested INR 3,084.43 crore ($458.14 million) in Bangladesh, a move that has created 63,277 jobs, says Mr. Amir Hossain Amu, Ministry of Industries, Bangladesh. He also said Bangladesh is looking forward to being India’s partner in tech industries.

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Tags: SAFTA, India, Bangladesh, Trade

May 2016

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka Agree to Enhance Trade Relations

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena agreed to further enhance bilateral trade relations at a meeting held on the sidelines of the G7 Outreach Summit in Japan. President Sirisena also accepted an invitation extended by Prime Minister Hasina to visit Bangladesh in December this year.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Trade

May 2016

ADB, SDF Sign Pact to Co-finance Development Projects

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Development Fund (SAARC SDF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a memorandum of understanding to undertake development projects in the South Asian region.

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Tags: ADB, Transport, SAARC, ICT, Trade, Bhutan, India, Nepal

May 2016

India, Myanmar Push for Stronger Economic Ties

The India-Myanmar Business Conclave met recently as part of a push for stronger economic ties between the two countries. At a conference on 18-20 May in Yangon, Myanmar, business leaders discussed partnerships as well as opportunities for future cooperation. Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry of India, spoke on forging partnerships, highlighting India’s opening of 96.4% of tariff lines at zero duty for Myanmar.

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Tags: Myanmar, India, Trade, Energy, ICT

May 2016

Bangladesh Trade Organization Looks into Growing Bhutan Trade Volume

The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) explored the possibility of growing its trade volume from Bhutan through investments in the country's fruit and vegetable processing industries and buying spices from Bhutan. FBCCI President Abdul Matlub Ahmad was in the country to explore new areas of trade and investments between the two countries.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Trade, Private Sector

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

May 2016

Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Economic Zone May be Formed

A Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) economic zone may be declared in an upcoming BBIN seminar and business expo to be held in Siliguri, India, according to Mr. Abdul Matlub Ahmad, President, Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI). Mr. Ahmad was in Thimphu, Bhutan to discuss the upcoming BBIN seminar, as well as opportunities for trade and investment between Bangladesh and Bhutan.

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Tags: Economic zone, BBIN, Trade, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal

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

India Commerce Secretary: Services Trade could Improve Opportunities in South Asia

A strong business agenda in services trade could improve opportunities in South Asia, increasing the level of prosperity and economic development in the region, emphasized India Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia as she called for South Asian countries to work together to push services exports.

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Tags: India, Services, Trade

April 2016

Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports Opens New Development Prospects to Landlocked Countries

The Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports, developed with support of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, entered into force on 23 April 2016, after 8 of the 17 signatory countries, including Bangladesh and India, deposited approvals of Agreement. The Agreement aims to promote international recognition of dry ports, facilitating investment in dry port infrastructure and enhancing their operational efficiency.

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

April 2016

5-year Sagar Mala Project to Help Reduce Logistics Cost

India's Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari announced the Government's updated target to complete the Sagar Mala program in 5 years at the Maritime India Summit. The project will help reduce logistics costs, boost merchandise exports by $110 million, and create 10 million new jobs.

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Tags: India, Ports, Transport, Trade, Trade Facilitation

April 2016

Bangladesh Commerce Minister Urges India's North East to Increase Imports

Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh discussed increasing volumes of imports from Bangladesh to the Indian state of Manipur during a visit by the Bangladesh Commerce Minister. Chief Minister Singh affirmed the huge demand for Bangladeshi products, and recommended enhanced private sector cooperation between the two countries.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Trade

April 2016

Promoting Trade in the BBIN Subregion Dialogue Discusses Need to Reduce NTMs

A Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) dialogue on promoting trade in the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) subregion has discussed intraregional trade in South Asia, which remains under 5% despite implementation of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement. According to MCCI, non-tariff measures manifested as non-tariff barriers and para-tariff barriers lead to high transaction costs in cross-border trade, keeping trade volume low.

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Tags: Trade, BBIN, SAFTA, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal

March 2016

Interactive Meet Discusses Cooperation between Bhutan and India's North East

A delegation from Bhutan's Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies participated in an interactive session with representatives from the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship and Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce. The Meeting discussed possible cooperation between Bhutan and India's North East in sectors including trade, commerce, hydropower, and tourism.

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Tags: Trade, Hydropower, Bhutan, India

March 2016

Direct Bangladesh-India Cargo Shipments to Enhance Bilateral Trade

Direct cargo shipments between Bangladesh-India were launched on 15 March 2016, with the first vessel sailing from Chittagong Port, Bangladesh to Krishnapatnam Port, India on 17 March 2016, carrying cotton and textiles. The service reduces transport time significantly—from 25 to 4 days to carry goods from Bangladesh to India, with goods no longer having to pass through Colombo, Sri Lanka, or Singapore.

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

March 2016

Bangladesh Trade Portal Enhances Predictability and Transparency in the Country's Trade

The Government of Bangladesh has launched the Bangladesh Trade Portal, a one-stop shop for information on conducting trade with Bangladesh. The website offers useful information on exporting goods from, and importing commercial goods into Bangladesh, to promote the country's trade sector. Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said the portal marks a milestone for business and traders.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade, Trade Facilitation, ICT

February 2016

SAARC-ADB First Training Programme of Nodal Points on Updating SAARCSTAT Web Portal

The SAARC-ADB First Training Programme of Nodal Points on Updating SAARCSTAT Web Portal was organised by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). The Training focused on updating national data available on the SAARCSTAT Web Portal to enhance usability, and equipped representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka with knowledge and capacity to upload and update their information on the website.

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Tags: SAARC, Trade, Economic cooperation, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka

February 2016

SAARC Energy Regulators to Harmonize Regulations to Boost Electricity Trade

The Second Meeting of the SAARC Energy Regulators agreed to address regulatory barriers through a Regional Regulatory Body, which will work toward harmonizing legal, policy, and regulatory frameworks to promote wider availability of electricity and boost cross-border trade in the region.

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Tags: SAARC, Energy, Trade, Sri Lanka

January 2016

Sri Lanka Customs Implements Single Window System

Sri Lanka Customs launched its Single Window System, paving the way for smoother and more efficient cross-border trade transactions. According to Sri Lanka Customs Director General Chulananda Perera, the Single Window benefits traders by lessening delays and cutting down on cumbersome procedures. Mr. Dinesh De Silva, Chairman, Import Section, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce sees the Single Window System driving down costs for businesses.

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Tags: Sri Lanka, Trade Facilitation, Trade

January 2016

Chittagong Seaport Records Milestone 2 Million TEU of Containers Handled

Chittagong Seaport attained its 2016 target of handling 2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of containers one year early. This announcement was made by the Chittagong Port Authority on 3 January 2015 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan as chief guest. According to Minister Khan, Chittagong Port's container holding capacity increased to 40,000 TEU, owing to a rise in container handling demand, which grew by 700,000 TEU in the last 3 years.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade Facilitation, Trade, Transport, Shipping

December 2015

Mutual Recognition Agreement on Standards on India-Sri Lanka Agenda

The 4th India-Sri Lanka Commerce Secretary meeting agreed to include the signing of a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on Standards in the agenda of an upcoming meeting in February 2016. This MRA aims to boost Sri Lankan exports to India by automatically allowing products certified by the Sri Lanka Standards Institution to enter India. A study by Verite Research found that non-recognition of Sri Lanka's standards certificates in India affects growth of Sri Lankan exports in India.

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Tags: India, Sri Lanka, Trade

December 2015

WTO Nairobi Package Delivers Commitments to LDCs

The World Trade Organization (WTO) 10th Ministerial Conference agreed on a series of trade initiatives and decisions to benefit its least developed country (LDC) members, including re-affirmation of public stockholding for food security purposes; preferential rules of origin which calls on preference-granting members to simplify documentary and procedural requirements related to origin; and 15-year extension of preferential treatment for LDCs in the area of services to increase LDC capacity.

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Tags: WTO, LDC, Trade, Trade Facilitation

December 2015

Bangladesh and Nepal Agree to Enhance Bilateral Trade

Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and Nepal Minister for Commerce and Supplies Ganesh Man Pun discussed Bangladesh-Nepal trade and other trade-related agreements currently being negotiated on the sidelines of the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Nairobi, Kenya. The two ministers agreed to complete all bilateral trade agreements and fast-track negotiations to promote bilateral trade ties.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Nepal, Trade

November 2015

Bhutan's Accession to the WTO Discussed

Accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was discussed during a workshop on Bhutan's graduation from least developed country (LDC) status, held on 17-18 November 2015. The Workshop clarified how membership to the WTO will benefit Bhutan, including enjoying the benefits of a multilateral trading system with WTO member countries, and discussed wider implications of WTO membership.

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Tags: Bhutan, WTO, Trade Facilitation, Trade

November 2015

ADB Support for Bangladesh's Transformational Infrastructure Development

Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice President Wencai Zhang pledged ADB's continuous support for Bangladesh's efforts on regional cooperation and integration in a meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He highlighted concrete results of Bangladesh's participation in regional cooperation, and discussed ADB plans to support Bangladesh's transformational infrastructure development.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade, Transport, Energy

November 2015

Bangladesh to Complete Needed Links for an Inter-Connected Region

Several initiatives to improve Bangladesh's connectivity with India's North East region are in the pipeline, to increase people-to-people contact and cross-border business. These include revamping trade infrastructures to connect border points, and expanding Bangladesh's diplomatic and consular presence in India's North East region.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Trade, Transport, Energy

November 2015

Look Beyond Traditional Economic Thinking to Expand Economic Ties: Sri Lanka High Commissioner in Dhaka

Sri Lanka High Commissioner in Dhaka, Ms. Yasoja Gunasekera said Bangladesh is working toward expanding economic ties with Sri Lanka for their mutual benefit, at an event organized by the Diplomatic Correspondents' Association-Bangladesh. She encouraged both countries to look beyond traditional economic thinking and explore initiatives to promote economic cooperation.

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Tags: Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Trade

October 2015

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Sign Free Trade Agreement

Bilateral discussions between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to sign a Free Trade Agreement enhancing trade and investment cooperation are at the final stage. According to Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, the two countries are working together to boost trade and increase connectivity. Bangladesh has proposed removal of all non-tariff barriers on exports, including pharmaceutical goods.

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Tags: Trade, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka

October 2015

World Trade Report 2015 Highlights Importance of Speedy, Extensive Implementation of the TFA

The latest World Trade Report launched on 26 October 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland is the first major study to comprehensively examine the benefits and challenges of implementing the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) since its adoption in 2014. It highlights how extensive and speedy implementation of the TFA will lead to bigger gains, particularly for developing countries and least developed countries.

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Tags: WTO, Trade Facilitation Agreement, Trade

October 2015

Bangladesh Prime Minister and Sri Lanka High Commissioner Discuss Bilateral Cooperation

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Sri Lanka High Commissioner Yasoja Gunasekera discussed a possible scope of cooperation during a courtesy call paid by the High Commissioner to the Prime Minister in October. Prime Minister Hasina encouraged more Sri Lankan investments and joint ventures in Bangladesh's 22 special economic zones. Bangladesh is also considering introducing a sea route to Sri Lanka.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Trade, Energy, Transport

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

September 2015

India Committed to Full Trade Liberalization by 2020

Indian Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman encouraged economies in the region to speedily work toward a free trade area with a defined timeline, preferably 2020, to achieve the joint vision of a South Asian Economic Union. Speaking at the South Asia Economic Conclave, she further highlighted that India is committed to total trade liberalization, and is working to ensure that its South Asian neighbors will be able to export to India on zero tariff.

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Tags: India, Trade, SAEU

September 2015

Commentary: Why South Asia Needs Regional Integration

Regional cooperation and integration can help improve cross-border connectivity, increase regional trade and investment, mobilize regional savings for regional investment, reduce macroeconomic vulnerability to shocks, facilitate cooperation in regional public goods, and improve the overall governance standards across the region. A commentary on regional integration in South Asia is shared.

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Tags: Regional Cooperation, Regional Integration, Trade Facilitation, Trade

September 2015

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and India Prime Minister Modi Set to Deepen Engagement

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has extended an invitation for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Sri Lanka in May or June 2016 to sign an agreement on economic and technological cooperation. The two Prime Ministers held discussions on enhancing economic ties between India and Sri Lanka and resuming ferry services during Prime Minister Wickremesinghe's visit to New Delhi, India on 14-16 September 2015.

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Tags: Sri Lanka, India, Trade, Transport

September 2015

6th Bhutan International Trade Fair 2015

Bhutan and Nepal conducted an international trade fair from 4-8 September 2015 in Thimphu, Bhutan to boost trade between the two countries. This private sector event recognizes Bhutan as a potential market for a growing number of businesses. A total of 215 business entities from seven countries participated in the fair.

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Tags: Bhutan, Nepal, Trade, Private Sector

August 2015

Border Markets along Bangladesh-India See Increase in Local Trade

A meeting of the commerce ministries of Bangladesh and India to renew the Memorandum of Understanding for Bangladesh-India border markets agreed to double the purchase limit for buyers. This decision comes as the two countries prepare to set up more markets to boost bilateral ties and trade.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Trade

August 2015

Bangladesh's New Export Policy Emphasizes Trade with Neighbors

A meeting of Bangladesh's Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the Bangladesh Export Policy 2015-2018. The new export policy highlights increasing trade with Bhutan, India, and Nepal, and targets $60 billion in annual export turnover by 2021.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade, BBIN

August 2015

Bangladesh’s First Trade Surplus with Nepal in 10 Years

Bangladesh recorded a trade surplus with Nepal in 2014-2015 for the first time in 10 years, due to a decrease in lentil imports. Nepal Transit and Warehousing Company figures show Nepal exported goods worth about $10.8 million, against imports of about $23.9 million last fiscal year.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Nepal, Trade

August 2015

Trade Restrictions on the Rise: WTO Report

Data from the World Trade Organization's (WTO) latest monitoring report reveal 104 new trade restrictions were adopted by WTO members from mid-October 2014 to mid-May 2015, an increase of 12% since the last reporting period. WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo said the organization should seek to make decisive progress in eliminating remaining trade-restrictive measures.

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Tags: WTO, Trade, Trade Facilitation

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

July 2015

SAARC Cross-border Infrastructure Boost from India's Capital Contribution to the SDF

The Government of India has cleared utilization of India's capital contribution to the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) for its Infrastructure and Economic Windows, to address infrastructure bottlenecks and promote growth in the SAARC region. This approval will help boost projects that will increase intra-SAARC trade and maximize the region's growth potential.

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Tags: SAARC, Trade, Transport

June 2015

SAARC-ADB Meeting on SAARC Stat Web Portal

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) organized a Meeting on the SAARC Statistical Organization (SAARC Stat) Web Portal in Kathmandu, Nepal on 29-30 June 2015 which facilitated a discussion between officials from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and former consultants of the SAARC Stat Web Portal concerning its timely and effective management. The SAARC Stat Web Portal aims to provide up-to-date and accurate statistical data and indica

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Tags: SAARC, Economy, Trade

May 2015

Inception Workshop on Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor

The State Government of Andhra Pradesh and the Asian Development Bank reviewed the inception report for the Regional Perspective Plan of the Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC), India’s first coastal corridor on 29 May in Hyderabad, India. Industrial analysis, infrastructure development and business regulatory reform proposals were presented.

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Tags: India, Transport, Trade, manufacturing

May 2015

Bhutan and Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sign MoU

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the presidents of the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 13 May 2015, stating that both chambers would assist the enterprises of the other country to invest jointly in their respective countries.

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Tags: Bhutan, India, Trade

April 2015

India and Sri Lanka to Propose Resumption of Negotiations on CEPA

A Bilateral Committee is to prepare a new draft framework between India and Sri Lanka and bring life back to stalled negotiations related to the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). CEPA aims to deepen the existing FTA between India and Sri Lanka, including in the areas of services and investments. In order to achieve the CEPA objective, it is recommended that representatives from relevant trade chambers – National Chamber of Exporters and Department of Commerce – be included.

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Tags: India, Sri Lanka, Trade

April 2015

Revised India-Bangladesh Trade Agreement Promotes Further Trade in the Subregion

The Bangladesh Cabinet approved proposed amendments to the India-Bangladesh Trade Agreement allowing the two countries to access each other's rail, road, and sea routes for third-country trade. The agreement is a boon to trade in the subregion, paving the way for Bangladesh to transport products to Bhutan and Nepal, and for India to send goods directly to Myanmar.

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Tags: Trade, Bangladesh, India

March 2015

Nepal International Trade Fair Highlights 19 Export Products

The fourth Nepal International Trade Fair, held 12-16 March 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal, highlighted Nepal's 19 priority export products identified by the Nepal Trade Integration Strategy. Business enterprises from other SAARC countries—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Pakistan—also joined. A total of 340 stalls exhibited different goods for 5 days, drawing 125,000 visitors, and recorded sales worth over $1.9 million.

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Tags: Nepal, Trade, SAARC, Hydropower

March 2015

India and Sri Lanka Forge Ties to Increase Trade

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi visited Sri Lanka on 13-14 March 2015, and signed four agreements with recently-elected Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena, including a Customs Cooperation Agreement that aims to balance the trade deficit between the two countries. He is the first Indian prime minister to visit the country in 28 years.

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Tags: India, Sri Lanka, Trade, Customs

March 2015

SAARC CCI Proposes Subregional Blocs to Address Common Economic Agendas

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI) plans to form subregional blocs that will address common economic issues of its member countries to increase intra-regional trade.  This was proposed under the SAARC CCI Action Plan for 2015, tabled during a joint session of SAARC CCI's 62nd Executive Committee and 20th General Assembly in New Delhi, India on 10 March 2015.

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Tags: SAARC CCI, Trade, Transport, India

March 2015

SAFTA Certificates for Bangladesh Small Garment Makers

The Government of Bangladesh will issue South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) certificates to allow South Asian countries to export at lower duty and receive duty benefits while shipping products in eight South Asian countries. The EPB recently decided to issue certificates to smaller apparel makers to help them export to neighboring countries and meet the growing demand of low-cost garments from Bangladesh.

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Tags: SAFTA, Bangladesh, Trade

February 2015

New Lease to Subregional Cooperation in South Asia

Mr. Saurabh Kaushik, research intern for the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, examines the trend toward subregional cooperation in South Asia. He traces the reasons for lack of significant outcomes of subregional groupings in the region, and discusses the “silver linings” on the horizon, including projects being supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the SASEC program.

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Tags: SAARC, BIMSTEC, IBM-SRC, Trade

February 2015

Bangladesh-Nepal Expo 2015 Showcases Potential Areas of Trade

The first Bangladesh-Nepal Expo 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal attracted about 100 private businesses and more than 10,000 visitors. Enterprises from Bangladesh showcased the wide variety of products Nepal’s business community can source from Bangladesh. The fair opened potential areas of trade and encouraged entrepreneurs from both countries to create business linkages with each other.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Nepal, Bilateral Trade, Trade

February 2015

India Expands Duty-Free Items to Sri Lanka

India plans to reduce the number of sensitive items subject to import duty under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) for Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It has already decreased the number of sensitive list items for least developed countries (LDCs) of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region. According to A.M. Gondane, Joint Secretary, SAARC, this will have Customs revenue implications for both countries.

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Tags: India, Sri Lanka, Trade

January 2015

SASEC Region Trade Integration Indicators Updated

Intra-regional trade share among South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) countries increased from 2011-2013 as economic exchange within the region strengthened, although overall intra-Asia trade declined. SASEC intra-regional trade also increased in the first seven months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013, yet its trade with the world decreased.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Trade

January 2015

India-Nepal: Comprehensive Partnership Agreements Can Increase Trade

The Power Trade Agreement (PTA) and the Power Development Agreements (PDAs) are recent developments that have renewed optimism in an India-Nepal economic cooperation.  The PTA is expected to encourage international investment in Nepal’s hydropower sector while the two PDAs are expected to boost investor confidence in Nepal’s water resources.

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Tags: India, Nepal, Trade

January 2015

Third India-Bangladesh Border Haat Inaugurated

Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and India Minister for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman jointly inaugurated the first border market (“haat”) along the Tripura-Bangladesh frontier on 13 January 2015. Both ministers spoke optimistically about new opportunities for trade during the inauguration ceremony.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Trade, Transport

January 2015

Bangladesh: Future Middle-Income Country Status to Have No Effect on EU Trade Benefit

The Government of Bangladesh aims to graduate to middle-income country status by 2021. Once it reaches middle-income status, it will not enjoy duty-free benefit under GSP but move to the ‘GSP Plus’ scheme. Bangladesh will have to sign four international conventions on human rights, labor rights, environment, and governance to enjoy GSP Plus benefit from the EU.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade, WTO

November 2014

India-Bangladesh Trade Gap Continues to Widen

In recent decades, Bangladesh has emerged as one of the largest export markets for India in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation region. From 1988-1989 to 1992-1993, India’s total exports increased by 164%, while the increase in imports to Bangladesh was 293%.

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Tags: India, Bangladesh, Trade

October 2014

Improving Women’s Participation in Regional Cooperation and Integration

The Validation Forum on Gender Dimensions of Regional Cooperation and Integration in South Asia, held on 28-29 October in ADB Headquarters, took stock of progress made in mainstreaming gender in multi-, regional, bilateral and country policies and legal frameworks.

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Tags: Gender, Regional Cooperation, Regional Integration, Trade

October 2014

PM Hasina Calls for Stronger Asia-Europe Connectivity

Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina addressed the Plenary Session of the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit 2014 and called for a more favorable trade regime, stronger technical cooperation, and better Asia-Europe connectivity. The European Union is Bangladesh’s largest export destination and Asia is Europe’s main trading partner with about US$2 trillion of Asia-Europe trade.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Asia-Europe, Trade

September 2014

11th Asia-Europe Finance Ministers’ Meeting

Finance Ministers and representatives from 49 Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Member Countries and the European Commission attended the ASEM Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Milan, Italy on 12 September 2014. The Ministers renewed their commitment to increased inter-regional investment and trade flows, protectionism resistance, and a successful conclusion to the World Trade Organization Doha Round.

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Tags: Regional Cooperation, WTO, Trade

August 2014

'Regional Connectivity for Shared Prosperity': UNESCAP's Roadmap to An Inclusive Future

Economic dynamism in the Asia-Pacific region has been driven primarily by individual economies, yet to ensure sustainable growth in the future, countries must integrate and cooperate to share prosperity, according to the 2014edition of the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific.

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Tags: Regional Cooperation, Poverty Reduction, UNESCAP, Asia-Pacific, Energy, Connectivity, ICT, LDC, SASEC, Trade, Transport

July 2014

SASEC Road Connectivity Project Boosts Bhutan's Trade Competitiveness

The Asian Development Bank approved just over $50 million for Bhutan’s South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Road Connectivity Project on 31 July 2014. The project will increase Bhutan's trade competitiveness by improving cross-border movement of people, goods, and business through construction and upgrading of the national highway network, and creating essential trade and trade facilitation infrastructure.

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Tags: Trade, Bhutan, Transport

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 Integration Indicators Updated

Data for Integration Indicators in the SASEC subregion have been updated to reflect trade figures from the Maldives and Sri Lanka, SASEC's newest members. Their inclusion boosts SASEC's intra-regional trade indicators and highlights the growing importance of regional trade. Data values for January-August 2013 were added.

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Tags: Trade, Regional Integration, Maldives, Sri Lanka

April 2014

Regional Cooperation in a Highly Interconnected World

The Asian Economic Integration Monitor (AEIM), a semiannual review of regional economic cooperation and integration in Asia covers regional economic updates, intraregional trade, financial integration and investment, and the importance of disaster risk financing instruments. The Theme Chapter: Insuring Against Asia’s Natural Catastrophes discusses market solutions and the role of government in developing disaster risk financing and strengthening financial resilience.

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Tags: Regional Cooperation, Trade, Financial integration

April 2014

Launch of Asian Development Outlook 2014

The Asian Development Outlook, ADB’s flagship economic publication provides comprehensive macroeconomic analysis in Asia including growth projections by country and region. The Asian Development Outlook 2014 forecasts that developing Asia will grow 6.2% in 2014 and 6.4% in 2015.

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Tags: Trade, Transport, Economy

March 2014

Third BIMSTEC Summit of Leaders Convenes in Myanmar

The Third Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Summit of Leaders and related events was held on 1-4 March 2014 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. Member States – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Sri Lanka – strengthened their resolve to jointly promote rapid economic development, and accelerate social progress in the sub-region.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, Transport, Trade

February 2014

ADB Approves $500,000 for SASEC Cross-Border Power Trade Development Technical Assistance Project

The Asian Development Bank has approved technical assistance of $500,000 for SASEC member countries to develop a comprehensive long-term regional transmission master plan for the region to more effectively coordinate power generation and transmission. The project aims to improve the planning and coordination capacity of SASEC countries to foster cross-border power trading.

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Tags: Energy, Regional Cooperation, Trade

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

June 2012

SAARC and ADB Workshop

A SAARC-ADB workshop held at the SAARC Secretariat Kathmandu on 21-22 June finalized the drafts of three studies.

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Tags: ADB, Economic cooperation, Regional Cooperation, Regional Integration, Nepal, SAARC, Services, Trade

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

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