News List

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

Year:
November 2017

Asia-Pacific Ministers Vow to Advance Regional Cooperation to Support SDG Agenda

At the Second Ministerial Conference on Regional Cooperation and Integration (RECI) organized by UNESCAP and ADB, government ministers and participants committed to support the implementation of the agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ministers said RECI should be consistent with the SDGs in contributing to social progress and environmental sustainability.

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Tags: ADB, Asia-Pacific, Energy, Regional Cooperation, Sustainable Development Goals, Trade Facilitation, Transport, UNESCAP

November 2017

Nepal to Join BIMSTEC Energy Grid

Nepal has decided to join the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) grid interconnection, a move meant to help facilitate trade in electricity and take full advantage of available energy sources. Nepal is expected to sign an MOU to join the grid interconnection at the Third BIMSTEC Energy Ministers' Meeting.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, BIMSTEC, Energy, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Trade Facilitation

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

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: South Asian Countries Building Connections

Mr. Prabir De, Professor at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, discusses how the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) subregional grouping’s focus to bridge connectivity gaps is crucial to reducing poverty in the region. He highlights the pressing need to begin implementing comprehensive trade facilitation and connectivity measures in the BBIN subregion, and remarks how success of the BBIN initiative is important to move broader regional integration initiative

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

June 2017

Nepal-Bangladesh Youth Meet on Promoting Bilateral Trade

The Nepal-Bangladesh Youth Conference 2017 was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, to discuss possible ways to increase bilateral trade between Nepal and Bangladesh. The environment and the economic and business sectors were among the topics tackled at the conference.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Nepal, BBIN, Regional Cooperation, Trade Facilitation

May 2017

ADB Blog: 6 Ways Asian Economic Cooperation is Changing the Region

Economic transformations have accelerated regional cooperation and integration in Asia. In this ADB blog post, Mr. Cuong Minh Nguyen, Principal Regional Integration Specialist, Southeast Asia Department, ADB, discusses six paradigm shifts that are reshaping economic prospects in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and other parts of the region. It also highlights the need for governments to work together to build a socially inclusive, environmentally friendly, and economically sustainable region.

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Tags: ASEAN, SAARC, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Energy, Regional Cooperation

May 2017

Building Stronger Cooperation with BIMSTEC

The Secretary General of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) advised member countries to look at regional cooperation in a pragmatic way, with efforts to build regional cooperation focusing on achieving practical results, at the conference marking BIMSTEC’s 20th anniversary.

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Tags: BIMSTEC, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Connectivity, Regional Cooperation

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

May 2017

Regional Cooperation Initiatives to Bolster Greater Male Region Development

Mr. Wencai Zhang, Vice President, Asian Development Bank (ADB), encouraged the active participation of Maldives in regional cooperation programs, in his two-day visit to Male, Maldives. ADB plans to increase support for Maldives in 2018-2019 through its indicative investment program that focuses on developing the Greater Male region, and also includes the SASEC National Window Project.

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Tags: Regional Cooperation, Maldives, Trade Facilitation, Single Window, ADB

May 2017

Former FBCCI President: Bangladesh-India Relations Better Now than Any Time in the Past

Mr. Abdul Matlub Ahmad, former President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, expressed confidence in the business relationship between Bangladesh and India, saying it is better right now than any time in the past. He encouraged the trade and business community to utilize the friendship between the two countries to promote development.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Private Sector, Trade Facilitation, Exports

May 2017

Need to Improve Bangladesh-India Port Services Highlighted by IBCCI

A delegation of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) met with Mr. Shajahan Khan, Shipping Minister, Bangladesh, to discuss trade bottlenecks in Bangladesh-India land ports. Infrastructural and administrative bottlenecks in land and sea ports of Bangladesh and India slows down the trade process. Long delays for trucks to pass through Customs, for example, results in shortages of warehouses and trucks, and skyrocketing prices in truck rentals.

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Tags: India, Bangladesh, Trade Facilitation, Transport

May 2017

Watch: Powering Asia in the 21st Century

The SASEC Vision lays out opportunities through industry linkages and regional trade:

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Tags: SASEC 2025, Regional Cooperation, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Energy, Economic Corridor Development

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

April 2017

Bangladesh Wants to Be South Asia’s Transport Hub

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

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

March 2017

Commentary: Boosting Trade Facilitation in Services

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

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

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

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

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

Nepal Submits Instrument of Acceptance for Trade Facilitation Agreement

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) is getting closer to coming into force after Mr. Deepak Dhital, Nepal’s Ambassador to the WTO, submitted his country’s instrument of acceptance to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on 24 January 2017. Nepal is the 14th least developed country to ratify the TFA, which is expected to help reduce trade costs for WTO member countries.

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Tags: Nepal, Customs, Trade Facilitation

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

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

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

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

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

Nepal Prepares to Implement the Customs Reform and Modernization Strategies and Action Plan 2017-2021

Nepal's Department of Customs is set to present the Customs Reform and Modernization Strategies and Action Plan (CRMSAP) 2017-2021 on 26 January 2017, International Customs Day. The CRMSAP 2017-2021 aims to implement provisions of the Revised Kyoto Convention, the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement, and the Single Window System.

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Tags: Nepal, Customs, Trade Facilitation, Single Window

January 2017

Nepal Customs Officers Undergo Training at NACEN

The National Academy of Customs, Excise and Narcotics (NACEN) held a capacity-building program for 35 Customs Officers from Nepal. The 5-day program discussed various Customs-related topics, including Customs valuation; World Trade Organization provisions; Customs reform; and use of risk management.

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Tags: India, Nepal, Trade Facilitation, Customs, Free Trade Agreement, Risk Management, WTO

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

Nepal Parliament Ratifies the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Nepal’s Parliament ratified the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) on 13 January 2017, drawing up the instrument of acceptance for the WTO TFA, whose implementation will help expand trade and attract foreign direct investment in Nepal by increasing transparency and effectiveness of the trading process.

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Tags: Nepal, Trade Facilitation, Exports, Customs, FDI, LDC, WTO

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

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

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

SASEC Portfolio Tops $9 billion

The SASEC project portfolio has surpassed the $9 billion mark with the December 2016 approval of Nepal’s SASEC Roads Improvement Project, worth $256.5 million. There are now 44 SASEC investment projects worth a cumulative $9.13 billion. During 2016, seven projects have been approved for a total of $2.37 billion.

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Tags: SASEC, Trade Facilitation, Energy, Transport, Roads, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, ICT, Rail, Economic corridor, Connectivity

November 2016

Nepal's Third Country Trade through Vizag Port Moves Forward

A notification for moving export and import cargo to and from Nepal through Visakhapatnam (Vizag) Port in Andhra Pradesh, India, was issued by the Nepal Department of Customs. This follows the go-ahead given by the Central Bank of Nepal to issue letters of credit to clients using Vizag Port to bring in trade. Furthermore, the Government of Nepal is considering establishing a consulate in Andhra Pradesh to ensure more efficient utilization of Vizag Port.

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Tags: Nepal, India, Trade Facilitation, Ports, Imports, Exports, LLDC

November 2016

Bangladesh-Nepal Road Route Survey to be Held in December

Government officials of Bangladesh and Nepal will conduct a joint survey on a potential road route under the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA), starting from5 December 2016. It will check road conditions, length of travel, and necessary infrastructure to ensure seamless movement of vehicles.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Nepal, BBIN, Trade Facilitation, Transport

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

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

SASEC Operational Plan Launched in Nepal

The SASEC Operational Plan, which aligns and brings together all SASEC sectoral strategies, was launched in Kathmandu, Nepal. With 37 of the 200 planned projects set to be implemented in Nepal, the Government’s policy reform efforts to integrate with global markets is set to receive a significant boost.

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Tags: Nepal, SASEC Operational Plan, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Energy

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

October 2016

New India-Bhutan Trade, Commerce, and Transit Agreement Approved by Indian Cabinet

A new Agreement on Trade, Commerce, and Transit between India and Bhutan, enabling a free trade regime between the two countries, and providing for duty-free transit of Bhutanese merchandise for trade with third countries, has been approved by the Cabinet of India, in a meeting chaired by India Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Tags: Bhutan, India, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Bilateral Trade

October 2016

Commentary: The Case for Stronger Ties in South Asia

In recent years, countries in South Asia have shown increasing commitment to deepening regional cooperation through bilateral agreements and regional initiatives, including the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement. This commentary by Ms. Nahela Nowshin of the Centre for Policy Dialogue discusses the importance of regional initiatives in South Asia, as well as the need to promote dialogue on matters of regional cooperation and connectivity.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, Transport, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal

October 2016

Simplified Customs Process to Benefit Emerging Domestic Brands

A new Customs inspection and verification procedure is changing how trade is conducted among South Asian countries. Through the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement, cargo and passenger vehicles may now pass through the four countries more smoothly. The simplified process greatly benefits apparel-centric economies, making South Asia more competitive for both global and domestic brands.

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Tags: BBIN, Customs, Trade Facilitation, Garments, Imports, Motor Vehicles Agreement, Bangladesh, India, Nepal

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

October 2016

ADB Advances Harmonization of SPS/TBT Measures in the SASEC Subregion

The Asian Development Bank is helping countries in the SASEC subregion harmonize two technical non-tariff measures, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), to enhance intraregional trade. Under this initiative, a national diagnostic study on SPS and TBT will be conducted in the six SASEC member countries, to be led by core committees formed by the six governments, in consultation with trade experts.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, Non-tariff Measures, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal

September 2016

Nepal Trade Portal Launched to Support Nepal Trade and Investment

The Government of Nepal launched the Nepal Trade Portal, a one-stop shop for official information on trade procedures and requirements for Nepali business. Featuring essential information for traders, the online portal aims to improve the way trade and business is conducted, and to facilitate cross-border trade by providing easy access to legal documents, forms and procedures in both English and Nepali.

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Tags: Nepal, Trade Facilitation, Exports, Imports

September 2016

Nepal Parliament Ratifies Protocol of Amendments to the Revised Kyoto Convention

The Nepal Parliament ratified the Protocol of Amendments to the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedure (Revised Kyoto Convention) on 9 September 2016, tabled by Mr. Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Nepal Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. The ratification is expected to boost the capacity of Nepal Customs to facilitate trade.

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Tags: Nepal, Trade Facilitation, Customs

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

India to Prioritize Working towards TFA for Services

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared the country’s desire to prioritize a trade facilitation agreement (TFA) for services, on 6 September at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, noting its potential to help professionals and business move from one country to another. Mr. Modi said that the service sector has huge potential and contributes significantly to the economy.

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Tags: India, BRICS, Trade Facilitation, WTO

September 2016

Second BBIN Trial Run Demonstrates Benefits of BBIN MVA

A new chapter in trade relations and people-to-people contact between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) began on 5 September 2016, as a Bangladeshi cargo truck rolled into the Customs Inland Container Depot, Patparganj, Delhi. Though the vehicle entered India through Petrapole Land Customs Station, Customs clearance was done at the ICD, Patparganj, as part of a trial run of the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement.

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Tags: BBIN, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Motor Vehicles Agreement, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal

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

BBIN MVA to Boost Infrastructure Development in the Subregion

The Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) is set to boost infrastructure development in the BBIN subregion. Bangladesh will see significant increase in cargo movement, enabling India to access its Northeast region, and helping facilitate third-country trade of landlocked Bhutan and Nepal. However, major investments in infrastructure are needed to maximize Bangladesh’s potential to become a transport and transshipment hub.

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

August 2016

Commentary: Trade Portal and Single Window Reduce Cost of Doing Business

The National Trade Portal and National Single Window are important components of the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA). This commentary by Ms. Ferdous Ara Begum, Chief Executive Officer, Business Initiative Leading Development of Bangladesh, discusses how these could improve trade, gives an update on Bangladesh's initiatives toward ratifying the WTO TFA, and recommends a region-wide Single Window for South Asia.

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Tags: WTO, Trade Facilitation Agreement, ASEAN, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Trade Facilitation

August 2016

India Begins Operations on the Varanasi-Haldia River Route

Mr. Nitin Gadkari, Road Transport and Shipping Minister, India, led the inauguration of the Varanasi-Haldia inland waterway route, laying the foundation stone for an inland waterway terminal, and flagging off a trial run of two cargo vessels from Varanasi to Haldia Port near Kolkata, a route that touches Nepal’s two major rivers—Koshi and Gandaki.

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Tags: India, Nepal, Trade Facilitation, Transport

August 2016

Government of India Forms National Committee on Trade Facilitation

The Government of India has established a National Committee on Trade Facilitation, in line with a provision contained in the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement. The Committee will be chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, and will lead development of a pan-India road map for trade facilitation.

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Tags: India, Trade Facilitation, RKC

August 2016

Bhomra, Sheola, Thegamukh Ports under BBIN to Benefit Region

Development of infrastructure at Sheola, Thegamukh, and Bhomra land ports under the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) initiative for regional connectivity will increase economic activity, according to a feasibility study report jointly undertaken by India and the People’s Republic of China. The report was presented at a National Public Consultation Workshop in Bangladesh on 11 August 2016.

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

August 2016

Visakhapatnam Port Getting Ready for Nepal's Third Country Trade

Nepal private sector representatives, including members of the Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Nepal Freight Forwarders' Association, and India port authorities from Kolkata and Visakhapatnam, met to discuss measures needed to bring India's Visakhapatnam Port into full-fledged operation for Nepal's third country trade, and simplifying clearing processes for Nepal-bound cargoes.

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Tags: India, Nepal, Trade Facilitation

August 2016

India to Develop a Special Economic Zone in Myanmar

The Government of India is planning to develop an economic hub in the port city of Sittwe, Myanmar, that will help boost India's connectivity to Southeast Asia.

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Tags: India, Myanmar, Special Economic Zone, Transport, Trade Facilitation

July 2016

Nepal Freight Forwarders Urge Early Operationalization of Vizag Port

Freight forwarders in Nepal have urged early operationalization of the Vizag Port in India as an alternative port for Nepal trade. According to the Nepal Freight Forwarders Association, ocean freight costs, Customs house agent charges, and other logistic costs can be reduced by directing trade through Vizag Port.

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Tags: Nepal, Shipping, Trade Facilitation

July 2016

SASEC Investment Projects Top $7.7 Billion

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

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

July 2016

Bangladesh Road Transport and Bridges Minister: BBIN MVA May Start in December

Implementation of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) may start in December, according to Bangladesh Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, while speaking at a closing ceremony of a drivers' training on road safety.

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

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

Commentary: 800 Million Reasons

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

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

July 2016

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

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

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

July 2016

Bus Service along IMT Route under Negotiation

Talks to implement a regular bus service between India and Thailand through Myanmar are underway as part of a Motor Vehicle Agreement being finalized by India, Myanmar, and Thailand (IMT). The service would run on the 1,400 kilometer IMT Trilateral Highway linking South and Southeast Asia.

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Tags: India, Myanmar, Thailand, Trade Facilitation, 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

July 2016

Harmonize Customs Duties for BBIN Success

BBIN Business Forum states that Customs duties and taxation must be harmonized in order to improve trade among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal. Following the successful signing of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement (BBIN MVA), the countries must now pursue ways to make the movement of goods and people easier.

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

June 2016

Interactive SASEC Corridor Map on Website

The interactive SASEC Corridor Map on the SASEC Program website and SASEC Mobile App is your gateway to SASEC projects. View projects by sector—energy, transport, trade facilitation, and ICT—or by corridor using the interactive map, to learn how the SASEC program is helping promote regional prosperity in South Asia. The map also includes project information and links to SASEC project pages.

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Tags: SASEC, Economic corridor, Energy, Trade Facilitation, Transport, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives

June 2016

ADB Blog: Why We Should Be Happy When SASEC Customs Officials Talk More

Meetings between Customs officials from SASEC member countries reaps benefits for the SASEC subregion and beyond, providing a platform for officers to decide the next steps in improving cross-border coordination and cooperation to resolve bottlenecks for trade at the borders. An Asian Development Bank (ADB) blog post by Ms. Rose McKenzie, Senior Regional Cooperation Specialist, Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination, South Asia Regional Department, ADB, is shared.

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Tags: Customs, Trade Facilitation, Regional Cooperation, ICT, BBIN, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal

June 2016

India Commerce Minister Calls on Bureau to Internationalize Standards

India Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, emphasized the need for the Bureau of Indian Standards to internationalize its standards to promote "zero defect" and global standards for made in India products. She called for an end to days of differential standards, and urged the Bureau to increase coordination with concerned ministries to streamline standards for locally made and imported items. 

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Tags: India, Trade Facilitation, Technical Barriers to Trade, SAARC

June 2016

Visakhapatnam Port Inaugurated as Nepal's Second Gateway Port

Cargo bound for Nepal was flagged off symbolically from Visakhapatnam Port in India on 24 June 2016, signaling to traders that the port is ready to facilitate exports and imports as Nepal's second gateway port. A delegation from Nepal is in Visakhapatnam to see through implementation of the agreement and discuss modalities of cargo transit with Customs officials from India.

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

June 2016

Bhutan's National Assembly Ratifies the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement

Bhutan's National Assembly ratified the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement (BBIN MVA) on 21 June 2016 with 28 votes. Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay reiterated that the BBIN MVA would regulate cross-border movement of vehicles in the subregion through formulation of protocols. Implementation of the BBIN MVA will help strengthen Bhutan's existing ties with India, and boost cooperation and integration within the subregion.

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Tags: Bhutan, BBIN, Trade Facilitation, Transport

June 2016

Bangladesh-India Transshipment Facility Reduces Distance to India's Northeast

Launch of the Bangladesh-India transshipment facility concluded with the successful delivery of steel rods from Kolkata, India to Agartala, the capital of Tripura, through Akhaura land port in Bangladesh, onboard Bangladeshi trucks. The facility will allow India to deliver goods to the northeast region in an estimated 10-day time, and help boost trade in the region by enabling Bangladesh to transport goods to Nepal and Bhutan via India, and give India access to Myanmar via Bangladesh.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Trade Facilitation, Transport

June 2016

ADB Blog: High Hopes for BBIN Vehicle Agreement, One Year On

The Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement is a landmark framework agreement signed by the transport ministers of the BBIN countries last June 2015 in Thimphu, Bhutan. Mr. Ronald Butiong, Director, Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination, South Asia Regional Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB), describes how it is paving the way for a more integrated and more prosperous South Asian region in an ADB blog entry.

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

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

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

Dedicated Railway Line from Indian Ports to Nepal Sought to Reduce Cost of Trade

Nepal's private sector stakeholders are seeking a dedicated railway line from Nepal to Indian sea ports, including the Visakhapatnam Port, to reduce the cost of trade in the country. Mr. Rajan Sharma, Transport and Transit Committee Chair of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, noted that direct access to India's Visakhapatnam Port could bring transformational changes to Nepal's economy.

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Tags: Nepal, India, Trade Facilitation, Transport

June 2016

India Promotes Easier Visa Regime among WTO Members

India is working on a proposal to ease facilitation issues on trade in services including visa regimes among members of the World Trade Orgagnization (WTO). WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo welcomed India’s proposal for a trade facilitation agreement in services, and requested submission of a proposal to initiate discussions.

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Tags: India, WTO, Trade Facilitation

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

1,400 Kilometer Highway to Link India, Myanmar, and Thailand

A 1,400 kilometer highway will soon connect South and Southeast Asia by linking India with Myanmar and Thailand. Mr. Bhagwant Singh Bishnoi, Indian Ambassador to Thailand, noted that the tri-nation highway exemplifies India's "Act East" policy, and will facilitate transit of goods and further development of SMEs in north India. The three countries are currently working to finalize negotiations for the groundbreaking India-Myanmar-Thailand Motor Vehicle Agreement.

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Tags: India, Myanmar, Thailand, Trade Facilitation, Infrastructure, Small and Medium Enterprises

May 2016

India, ADB to Enhance Connectivity in SASEC Region through Planned Infrastructure Projects

India is planning to develop regional connectivity projects worth around $5 billion under the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-supported SASEC Program, according to Mr. Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, India. These initiatives include two priority road corridors that will boost connectivity with its neighbors in South and Southeast Asia and complementary integrated check posts and land Customs stations. India and ADB will also work together to develop the East Coast Econom

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Tags: India, Economic corridor, Energy, Transport, Trade Facilitation

May 2016

SASEC Member Countries Urged to Develop Synergies through Cooperation

Mr. Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, India called on member countries of the SASEC Program to develop synergies through cooperation, in his inaugural address at the Second Regional Consultation Workshop on SASEC 2025. He also highlighted SASEC's strength as a project-driven initiative.

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Tags: SASEC 2025, Regional Cooperation, Trade Facilitation, BBIN, Poverty Reduction, India

April 2016

WCO Workshop Considers Improvement of Regional Transit Regimes in BBIN Subregion

A World Customs Organization (WCO) Subregional Workshop on Transit Corridors in South Asia considered improvement of regional transit regimes in the region. Progress of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement, as well as national experiences of Japan, Switzerland and Malawi in implementing efficient transit regimes, was discussed.

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

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

India Ratifies the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

The Government of India has ratified the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, submitting its instrument of acceptance on 22 April 2016. Ms. Anjali Prasad, Ambassador to WTO, India handed over the instrument to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo. India is the 76th WTO member to accept the Agreement.

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Tags: India, Trade Facilitation, WTO

April 2016

SASEC Program Upgrades Mobile App

Version 2.0 of the SASEC Program Mobile App is now available for download. With improved user interface and layout, updated offline data, faster caching, and smaller app size, the updated SASEC Program Mobile App is lighter, quicker, and more user friendly.

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Tags: Knowledge Product, SASEC, Trade Facilitation, Energy, Transport

April 2016

3-year SAARC Business Visa, SAARC Industrial Park to Boost Trade in the Region

The new SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) Senior Vice President Ajith Wathuhewa shared that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) business visa will be extended from 6 months to 3 years, to be made available by end 2016, to help increase SAARC inter-regional trade. A SAARC Industrial Park in Sri Lanka is also planned to increase trade in the region.

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Tags: SAARC CCI, Industrial Park, Sri Lanka, Trade Facilitation

April 2016

India's Service Sector Necessary for Successful WTO TFA Implementation

India Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasized the importance of India's service sector to the successful implementation of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA). According to the Commerce and Industry Minister, India's service sector will sustain the country's vision of port and logistics improvement.

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Tags: India, Services, Trade Facilitation, Trade Facilitation

April 2016

India's Service Sector Necessary for Successful WTO TFA Implementation

India Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasized the importance of India's service sector to the successful implementation of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA). According to the Commerce and Industry Minister, India's service sector will sustain the country's vision of port and logistics improvement.

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Tags: India, Services, Trade Facilitation, Trade Facilitation

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

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

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

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

April 2016

Private Sector Representative: BBIN Corridor Trial Run Highlighted Scope for Development

Dr. Pritam Banerjee, Senior Director, Corporate Public Policy (South Asia), Deutsche Post DHL, reported that the first trial run of cargo vehicles on the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala route under the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) sub-regional framework, enabled a better understanding of future needs and solutions for safe and efficient movement of cargo across BBIN borders.

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Tags: Private Sector, BBIN, Trade Facilitation, Transport, India, Bangladesh

April 2016

Bangladesh Prepares to Ratify the WTO TFA

The Government of Bangladesh is preparing to ratify the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which will enable efficient and speedy flow of goods across borders and make doing business less costly. Bangladesh aims to ratify the TFA soon, to allow the country to enjoy trade benefits available to least developed countries.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade Facilitation, LDC

March 2016

Integrated Declaration to Streamline Processing of Import Clearances at Indian Customs

India's Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) is implementing an 'Integrated Declaration,' under its Single Window Project to facilitate more efficient processing of Customs clearance for imports and exports, and promote ease of doing business in the country. The electronic Integrated Declaration offers a single point where import traders can lodge information required by Customs and the Partner Government Agencies, replacing 9 separate forms previously required.

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Tags: India, Trade Facilitation, ICT, WCO

March 2016

SAARC Member Countries Urged to Work Together to Achieve Goal of SAEU

India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called for further consolidation of the South Asian Free Trade Area and the South Asian Trade in Services Agreement to achieve the goal of a South Asian Economic Union, in her address at the 37th SAARC Council of Ministers' Meeting. She said SAARC member countries must work together to harness their economic complementarities and create an environment conducive to rapid growth.

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Tags: SAARC, SAFTA, SAEU, South Asian Economic Union, India, Trade Facilitation

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

Cabinet Secretary to Chair India's National Committee on Trade Facilitation

The Government of India is set to appoint its Cabinet Secretary as Head of the National Committee on Trade Facilitation, which will facilitate both domestic coordination and implementation of the provisions of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement. The terms of reference for the national committee will be drafted once suggestions from industry associations and border states have been received.

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Tags: India, Trade Facilitation, WTO

March 2016

Joint Exercise to Reduce Delays in Export/Import Clearances to be Conducted in India

A Meeting of high-level officials from the Government of India's Ministry of Finance, Central Board of Excise and Customs, Railway Board, Shipping and Airport Authority has discussed ways to expedite the country's clearance process for exports and imports, deciding to conduct a joint exercise to identify and address delays at every stage.

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Tags: India, Exports, Imports, Trade Facilitation

March 2016

LPAI Foundation Day Reaffirms India's Commitment to Boosting Land Borders

The Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) commemorated its 4th Foundation Day, headed by Mr. Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs who launched the LPAI logo and website. In his address, Mr. Rijiju reaffirmed the Government's commitment to enhance land borders that will increase trade with neighboring countries. He remarked on the need to explore new trade routes, particularly in the North East region.

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Tags: ICT, Trade Facilitation, India

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

March 2016

WTO Developing, LDC Members Encouraged to Start Preparing for Entry into Force of the TFA

WTO members were advised to notify the WTO about their technical assistance and capacity-building needs, including the timeframe to ensure effective implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The WTO Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation has received 81 “Category A” notifications and an increasing number of “Category B”and “Category C” notifications.

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Tags: WTO, LDC, Trade Facilitation, Sri Lanka

February 2016

India Removes Mandatory Extra Duty on Imports

India has taken a step forward to improve its ease of doing business for local subsidiaries of multinational companies by approving simplified rules governing import pricing. The amended Customs rules removed the mandatory deposit of extra duty on imported goods by related parties, including Indian arms of import-dependent multinationals.

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Tags: India, Customs, Trade Facilitation

February 2016

ADB Supports Upgrade of Colombo Port through PPP

Sri Lanka's Colombo Port will be expanded through a public–private partnership initiative, with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Sri Lanka Ports Authority and ADB signed a $500 million transaction advisory services agreement for upgrading of the port's East Container Terminal. The project is set to improve the port’s value proposition by bringing leading operations and technology from the private sector.

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Tags: Sri Lanka, Ports, Public-Private Partnership, Trade Facilitation

February 2016

India and Nepal Exchange Transit Agreements Boosting Nepal's Third Country Trade

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli—on his first state visit since assuming office in October 2015—held comprehensive talks in New Delhi, and witnessed the signing of several agreements, including letters of exchange on transit and rail. These agreements will help promote Nepal's trade with third countries by making transport more efficient and less costly.

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Tags: India, Nepal, Trade Facilitation, Transit Facilitation

February 2016

Banglabandha-Phulbari Land Port Opens Immigration Facility

An immigration facility in the Banglabandha-Phulbari Land Port between Bangladesh and India—jointly inaugurated on 18 February 2016—is expected to ease people-to-people connectivity between the two countries. Strategically located on the Asian Highway, this border-crossing point is expected to boost trade and commerce not only between Bangladesh and India, but also with Bhutan and Nepal.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Trade Facilitation

February 2016

India Commerce Minister Highlights Significance of WTO TFA Ratification

India's Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighted the significance of the Cabinet's decision to ratify the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA), and affirmed the Government's initiatives to improve systems within India for trade facilitation. She also discussed necessary provisions that India should adopt to comply with the Agreement.

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Tags: India, Trade Facilitation, WTO

February 2016

India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission Highlight Areas for Cooperation

The 9th Session of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission discussed strengthening India-Sri Lanka cooperation in areas including energy and trade. The two countries are also preparing to open negotiations on the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement. Further possible collaboration in railway development and renewable energy was also bookmarked by the Joint Commission.

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Tags: India, Sri Lanka, Energy, Trade Facilitation

January 2016

2016 International Customs Day: India Central Board Of Excise and Customs

India's Central Board Of Excise and Customs celebrated International Customs Day 2016. In observance of the theme, 'Digital Customs: Progressive Engagement', a presentation on digitization in Indian Customs was delivered, and 3 digital initiatives were launched. Mr. R. Chandra Shekhar, President, National Association of Software and Services Companies, highlighted the strides made by the department in digitization of Customs processes.

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Tags: India, Customs, Trade Facilitation

January 2016

2016 International Customs Day: Bhutan Department of Revenue and Customs

Bhutan's Department of Revenue and Customs observed the International Customs Day at the Regional Revenue and Customs Office, Samtse. Customs officials with outstanding contribution to the organization were awarded World Customs Organization Merit Certificates. Senior officials from the Ministry of Finance, border enforcement agencies and cross-border Customs officials from neighbouring towns of India joined the celebration.

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Tags: Customs, Bhutan, Trade Facilitation

January 2016

2016 International Customs Day: Bangladesh National Board of Revenue

The Bangladesh National Board of Revenue (NBR) organized a seminar on digital Customs and progressive engagement on the occasion of International Customs Day. In his address, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said the proposed Customs Act 2015 will be placed for approval of the national parliament in the next budget session. It will automate and modernize Customs and business procedures for export-import by providing NBR with a broad legal basis for implementation of an electronic Customs

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade Facilitation, Customs

January 2016

2016 International Customs Day: Nepal Department of Customs

International Customs Day is observed in honor of the establishment of the World Customs Organization, an independent intergovernmental body, on 26 January 1952. Nepal Department of Customs shares the week-long program planned in Nepal to mark the occasion.

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Tags: Customs, Nepal, Trade Facilitation

January 2016

3rd Meeting of BBIN Joint Working Group on Subregional Cooperation, Dhaka

The third meeting of the Joint Working Group on Subregional Cooperation between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) on Connectivity and Transit and Water Resources Management and Power/Hydropower deliberated new initiatives for deepening cooperation. Discussion centered around progress made under the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement and the proposed BBIN Rail Agreement.

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

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

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

January 2016

Proposed SAARC Meeting to Discuss Regional Transport Agreements

A proposed meeting of SAARC Transport Ministers in Kathmandu, Nepal aims to discuss the SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement and SAARC Regional Railway Agreement, ahead of the 19th SAARC Summit to be held in the latter part of 2016 in Pakistan. The proposed regional transit agreements aim to promote transport connectivity in the region, and to enhance regional economic cooperation and integration.

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Tags: SAARC, Transport, Trade Facilitation, BBIN, Nepal

January 2016

Sri Lanka Prepares to Ratify the WTO TFA

Sri Lanka's Cabinet of Ministers has given its approval to ratify the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA), following a proposal made by Sri Lanka's Minister of Industries and Commerce, Mr. Rishad Bathiudeen. The TFA will maintain the country's competitiveness in global and naval trade.

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Tags: Sri Lanka, WTO, Trade Facilitation

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

69 Bridges to be Built on Major Section of the IMT Trilateral Highway

A total of 69 bridges will be built by the Government of India along a major road link of the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway in Myanmar. These bridges will be part of the route for a proposed bus service linking Imphal, capital of the Indian state of Manipur, with Mandalay City in Myanmar. The project is estimated to cost around $56 million, and is due for completion in mid-2019.

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Tags: India, Myanmar, Thailand, Trade Facilitation, Transport

December 2015

SASEC in 2015

Several key SASEC events during 2015 helped the six member countries promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries, and strengthening regional economic cooperation. Here's a review of some of the major events in 2015.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, Transport, Energy

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

Commentary: South Asia Could Be Linchpin for Regional Integration

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

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

December 2015

India's Sagar Port to Receive Boost in Connectivity

Upgrading 2,000-kilometers of India's Diamond Harbor Road (National Highway-117 and NH-35), linking Barasat and Petrapole through an expressway, and constructing a bridge across the Muri Ganga River to connect Sagar Island with the mainland would facilitate better port connectivity and promote greater regional cooperation in India. An ADB loan is anticipated to support this project.

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Tags: India, Ports, Trade Facilitation

December 2015

DCCI Seminar Highlights Need to Implement Trade Facilitation Measures in Bangladesh

A seminar organized by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) discussed 'Trade Facilitation: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Growth' in Bangladesh. Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr. Mashiur Rahman emphasized that trade facilitation measures should boost trade and promote investments. Dr. Khairuzzaman Mozumder, Deputy Chief of USAID, identified remaining key challenges in implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement in the country.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, Bangladesh, Private Sector

December 2015

Customs Cooperation, Bilateral Transport Agreement Discussed at Bangladesh-Bhutan Meeting

A 2-day meeting between Bangladesh and Bhutan headed by Commerce Secretaries discussed several bilateral concerns, including increasing products on the duty-free import/export list of both countries, potential hydropower imports from Bhutan to Bangladesh, Customs cooperation, and road and water transport agreement.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Customs, Trade Facilitation, Transport, BBIN

November 2015

Exchange of Documents at Major SASEC Border-Crossing Points Starts

The exchange of export-related data between designated adjacent border crossing points in the SASEC subregion commenced on 30 November 2015. This SASEC Customs Subgroup Subregional Project promotes the exchange of documents at five major border-crossing points between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal, to promote future electronic exchange of data and build a better risk profile of traders.

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

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

Bangladesh and India Sign SOP on Coastal Shipping

Bangladesh and India signed the Standard Operating Procedure to operationalize the 'Agreement on Coastal Shipping' formalized in June 2015. This Agreement will provide huge savings in logistics costs for cargo transport between the two countries, improving bilateral trade. The two parties have also agreed to sign an agreement on passenger and cruise vessels.

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Tags: Bangladesh, India, Trade Facilitation, Transport

November 2015

Bhutan Moves to Modernize Customs Administration through New Customs Bill

Bhutan Finance Minister Namgay Dorji presented the Customs Bill 2015 at the country's National Assembly on 5 November. The Bill aims to modernize Bhutan's Customs administration and was drafted in accordance with standards of the Revised Kyoto Convention. Aligning Bhutan with international standards and practices will lead to economic and non-economic gains, such as increased transparency and predictability of Customs actions, as well as added revenue.

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Tags: Bhutan, Trade Facilitation, Customs

November 2015

Trial Runs for the IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement Begin in December

Trial runs to test the effectiveness of the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Motor Vehicle Agreement and identify implementation-related issues will begin by December 2015, according to India's Union Road Transport and Highway Secretary Vijay Chibber. Protocols for the IMT MVA are currently being finalized, to be signed by early April 2016.

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Tags: India, Myanmar, Thailand, Trade Facilitation, Transport

October 2015

WTO Receives 50th Ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement

The Republic of Macedonia became the 50th country to submit its ratification of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). This submission follows the ratification recently deposited by the EU on behalf of its 28 member states, which gave a huge boost toward efforts to bring the Agreement into force. The WTO reported a sharp rise in ratifications, with the number of acceptance instruments received tripling by June 2015.

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Tags: WTO, Trade Facilitation, LDC

October 2015

Nepal Deputy Prime Minister Calls on India's Top Government Officials

Officials from India assured Nepal Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa of increased supplies of essential goods from India. Minister Thapa went on a 3-day visit to New Delhi, where he met with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

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Tags: Nepal, India, Trade Facilitation

October 2015

11th Asia-Europe Meeting of Customs Agrees on Goa Declaration

The 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) of Customs Directors General and Commissioners met on 8-9 October 2015 in Goa, India and agreed on the Goa Declaration - a 2016-2017 action plan of 10 specific measures in the Customs field, including trade facilitation, Authorized Economic Operators, and Paperless Customs for participating administrations. The Goa Meeting saw the participation of 41 countries from Asia and Europe

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Tags: Asia-Europe, Trade Facilitation, India

October 2015

Historic Opportunity to Link South and Southeast Asia: ADB Brief

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

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

October 2015

High-Level Meeting in India Stresses Need for Better Connectivity in the North East Region

A Meeting between India's Minister for External Affairs and Governors of the North East region covered key aspects of the 'Act East Policy', including transport connectivity, border trade, and regional production and value chains. The Meeting stressed the need for better connectivity of the North East to a wider region, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Thailand, and discussed ongoing and planned cross-border connectivity projects.

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Tags: India, Act East Policy, Transport, Trade Facilitation, Bangladesh

October 2015

Business Conclave Promotes Enhanced Connectivity between Bhutan and West Bengal

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee encouraged private sector delegates to explore a business corridor concept for tourism, small industries and joint venture projects at an India-Bhutan Business Conclave, held in Bhutan. Making West Bengal a gateway to the North East will open up further business opportunities for Bhutan.

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Tags: Bhutan, India, Trade Facilitation, Transport

September 2015

Bhutan Prime Minister Calls for Partnerships to Help LLDCs

Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay promotedpartnerships as a way to help landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) become land-linked to global opportunities, saying it is possible to ensure a country is not landlocked economically with its neighbors' full trust and confidence. The Prime Minister was attending a high-level forum for landlocked developing countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

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

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

Commentary: Implementation of WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement in Bangladesh

Read a commentary on the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Bangladesh. The TFA provides a series of measures to facilitate smooth and efficient movement of goods across borders inspired by best practices from around the world. It is expected to benefit all members of the World Trade Organization, including Bangladesh.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade Facilitation, Trade Facilitation Agreement

September 2015

ADB-Supported BBIN MVA Meeting Kicks Off Protocol Negotiations

The technical committees of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) wrapped up a two-day meeting for the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) protocol negotiations on 9 September 2015. The Meeting initiated negotiations, reaching agreement on guidelines on cross-border movement of passenger and cargo vehicles.

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Tags: BBIN, Transport, Trade Facilitation

September 2015

Bangladesh Businessmen Call for Better Land Port Infrastructure

Bangladesh businessmen envisage increased trade with India if constraints on land port infrastructure are addressed. Land ports and land Customs stations play a significant role in the country's trade within the subregion. Current limitations in infrastructure, communication, and excessive documentation create hurdles for trade efficiency.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade Facilitation, Private Sector

September 2015

Strategic Master Plan for Chittagong Port Unveiled

A new master plan outlining a long-term vision for Chittagong Port has been unveiled in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Development under the plan is expected to increase port efficiency and is estimated to cost around $1.9 billion. The master plan financed through SASEC Program technical assistance funded by the Asian Development Bank.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Ports, Trade Facilitation

September 2015

Development of Land Ports in Bangladesh to Boost Regional Trade

The Government of Bangladesh will develop the country's land ports to spur regional trade, undertaking around $84.76 million worth of projects to improve land port infrastructure, warehouse facilities, Customs control procedures, and the institutional and regulatory framework. This initiative will facilitate more efficient movement of goods by cutting border-crossing times to and from Bangladesh, toward Bhutan, India, and Nepal.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, Bangladesh, BBIN

August 2015

Bangladesh Prepares to Enact New Customs Law

The National Board of Revenue of Bangladesh is set to present the Customs Act of 2015 for passage in the September parliamentary session. The new Customs Law, which aims to facilitate smooth international trade, reduce time and cost of doing business, and create a better investment climate, will replace the existing 1969 Customs Law.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade Facilitation, Customs

August 2015

Bangladesh and Bhutan Customs Begin Sharing Trade Data

A Meeting of the Joint Group of Customs of Bangladesh and Bhutan held in Thimphu, Bhutan on 26-27 July agreed to share export-import data from Phuentsholing and Burimari Customs stations. The Meeting also decided to consider opening Bangladesh's Chilmari and Roumari river routes to increase access between the two countries.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Trade Facilitation

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

Bangladesh and Bhutan Customs Officials Discuss Removal of Non-Tariff Barriers

Customs officials from Bangladesh and Bhutan met on 27 July 2015 in Thimphu, Bhutan to discuss removal of barriers that restrict bilateral trade, and the sharing of import and export data between the two countries. As important trading partners, Bangladesh and Bhutan are working to resolve non-tariff barriers to enhance trade efficiency and boost the exchange of goods.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Trade Facilitation

July 2015

Bhutan SASEC Road Connectivity Project to Begin September

Construction to improve Pasakha Access Road in Phuentsholing, Bhutan will start in September, said officials from Bhutan's Department of Roads, Ministry of Works and Human Settlement. This road section—a key output of the SASEC Road Connectivity Project in Bhutan—will access a bypass road from Bibarey near Manglabarey, providing trucks and other vehicles an alternate route to industrial sites in Pasakha. Once constructed, it is expected to decongest traffic in Bhutan's Phuentsholing and India

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Tags: Bhutan, India, Trade Facilitation, Transport

July 2015

Bangladesh Setting Up National Single Window

An inter-ministerial meeting in Bangladesh reached consensus to set up a National Single Window (NSW) to facilitate cross-border trade and reduce the cost of doing business. The NSW will use a virtual system through which different organizations will be interconnected. The National Board of Revenue's Customs wing will be lead agency for the NSW.

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Tags: Bangladesh, Trade Facilitation, Customs

June 2015

Seminar Highlights Role of Trade Facilitation in Economic Corridor Development

The Asian Development Bank hosted a seminar on economic corridor development on 30 June 2015, where Dr. Pritam Banerjee, Deutsche Post DHL Trade Facilitation and Logistics Expert, discussed necessary macroeconomic reforms from the logistics perspective of economic corridor development facilitation.

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Tags: Customs, Economic corridor, Trade Facilitation

June 2015

Asian Development Bank Reaffirms Commitment to Road Connectivity Projects in Bhutan

Asian Development Bank Vice President Wencai Zhang reaffirmed ADB’s continuous commitment to Bhutan highway projects and the development of the country's wider road sector in discussions with Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Finance Minister and ADB Governor Namgay Dorji focusing on current and future ADB operations in Bhutan during his visit to Thimphu on 15 June. Improvements in Bhutan's infrastructure will help improve and diversify the economy.

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Tags: Bhutan, Transport, Trade Facilitation

May 2015

Potentially Large Gains from Enhanced South Asia-Southeast Asia Connectivity

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

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

May 2015

WCO Secretary General and WTO Director General Attend ADB Forum

World Customs Organization (WCO) Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya and World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevêdo spoke at the Asian Development Bank Beyond Tariffs Forum in Manila on 21 May 2015. Director General Azevêdo outlined the origins of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation while Secretary General Mikuriya spoke about WCO’s collaborative approach with the WTO in TFA implementation.

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Tags: WCO, WTO, Trade Facilitation

May 2015

China Contributes $500,000 to WTO Least Developed Countries

The Government of China pledged to contribute $500,000 to World Trade Organization (WTO) Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Accessions Program or the China Program. This will enable LDCs to better integrate into the global economy by strengthening their participation in WTO activities and helping members accede to the WTO.

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Tags: WTO, LDC, Trade Facilitation

March 2015

Bhutan High-Level Workshop to Improve National Competitiveness

The Better Business Council High-Level Workshop on Improving National Competitiveness was held in Thimphu, Bhutan on 23 March 2015, providing a platform for Bhutan to learn from the experience of the Republic of Georgia and the Republic of Korea (ROK) how to improve their national business climate and international trade.

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Tags: Bhutan, Economy, Trade Facilitation

March 2015

WCO Holds First Regional Workshop on Trade Facilitation

The world's first regional workshop on the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA) was held in Jakarta, Indonesia from 16 to 18 March 2015. The three-day workshop discussed strategic initiatives that focused on three main agendas: (i) WTO TFA implementation; (ii) the World Customs Organization's Mercator Programme; and (iii) Customs cooperation among government age

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Tags: WCO, WTO, Trade Facilitation, ADB

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

February 2015

SASEC Transport Project Improving Bhutan-India Connectivity Receives Go Signal

Works to improve road connectivity and facilitate trade between Bhutan and India are set to begin soon along the Phuentsholing-Jaigaon border. An Asian Development Bank-financed project under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program will construct a bypass road from Jaigaon, India to Pasakha in Bhutan and include a mini-dry port in Phuentsholing. A land customs station will also be constructed in Pasakha to monitor the bypass road.

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Tags: Bhutan, India, Trade Facilitation, Transport

February 2015

Asian Development Bank to Give $1 Billion Credit to Improve Nepal's Infrastructure

Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao called on Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on 3 February 2015 during a visit to Nepal, and met with Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat and National Planning Commission Vice Chairperson Govinda Pokharel. ADB plans to provide about $1 billion in concessional loans and about $13 million in technical assistance grants to Nepal over the next three years to support faster and more inclusive growth in the country.

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Tags: ADB, Nepal, Energy, Transport, Trade Facilitation

January 2015

SASEC Celebrates International Customs Day

The World Customs Organization celebrated International Customs Day on 26 January 2015 to promote Coordinated Border Management (CBM) under the theme, “Coordinated Border Management – An inclusive approach for connecting stakeholders”. CBM is now recognized by the Customs community as a potential solution of the 21st century.

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Tags: Customs, Trade Facilitation, Trade Security

January 2015

Nepal Subregional Transport Enhancement Project Receives ADB Award

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recognized exemplary project implementation of five best-performing projects on 18 January 2015, naming the Subregional Transport Enhancement Project (STEP), a South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) project in Nepal, Best in Safeguard Monitoring.

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Tags: Nepal, Trade Facilitation, Transport

January 2015

Prime Minister Modi Vows to Make India Easiest Business Destination

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to make India the easiest destination to do business with at the inauguration of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit on 11 January 2015. With global leaders and foreign investors in attendance, he highlighted India's investor-friendly climate, and said that India is working to upgrade its manufacturing infrastructure by modernizing ports and improving road and rail connectivity.

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Tags: India, Infrastructure, Trade Facilitation, manufacturing

December 2014

Bhutan Trucks May Now Enter Bangladesh

Bhutanese trucks carrying import/export cargo are now able to enter Bangladesh via India, according to Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed during a visit to Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay on 7 December 2014. The new agreement will allow trucks to carry products directly from Bangladesh for import to Bhutan.

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Tags: Bhutan, Bangladesh, Transport, Trade Facilitation

December 2014

Nepal, UNCTAD to Update Customs Data System

The Department of Customs of Nepal and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) have concluded the negotiations for Nepal's adoption of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) World in November 2014.

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Tags: ASYCUDA, Trade Facilitation, Nepal

November 2014

SASEC Program Launches Mobile App

The South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Program has released a mobile app now available for download. This free app is your one-stop shop for the latest information on SASEC Program projects, news, events, and other knowledge products.

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Tags: Connectivity, Energy, Transport, Trade Facilitation

October 2014

SASEC Assists Bangladesh Strengthen Infrastructure Development

The Asian Development Bank’s South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Program will finance key infrastructure projects worth $492 million under its country operations business plan: the second Bangladesh-India electrical grid interconnection ($105 million), Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar railway link ($217 million), and road and trade facilitation ($170 million).

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Tags: Bangladesh, Regional Cooperation, Energy, Trade Facilitation

September 2014

Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2014 focuses on Trade Facilitation for Inclusive Development

The Asian Development Bank, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand, jointly organized the 6th Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum (APTFF)—an annual regional platform—on September 24-25, 2014. Over 200 delegates joined the knowledge and experience-sharing forum.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, Single Window, Trade Facilitation Agreement

September 2014

80-Vehicle Trial Run of ESCAP Secure Cross-border Transport Model along Bhutan-India Transit Corridor

In follow-up to the limited pilot run of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific's Secure Cross-border Transport Model, officials from India and Bhutan Customs administrations participated in trial runs of 80 vehicles along the Kolkata-Jaigon-Phuentsholing transit corridor between Bhutan and India on 1—5 September 2014.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, India, Bhutan, Transport

July 2014

WTO Faces Setback on Implementation of Bali Trade Deal

The deadline for adoption of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement passed on 31 July without reaching a consensus. WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo reports "the remaining gaps are unbridgeable with the time that we have."

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Tags: Trade Policy, Trade Facilitation, WTO

July 2014

WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility Support LDCs and Developing Countries

A Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility was launched by the WTO on 22 July 2014, further ensuring that least developed countries and developing countries will receive necessary assistance in implementing the trade facilitation agreement.

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Tags: WTO, Trade Facilitation, Poverty Reduction, ADB, SASEC, Trade Facilitation Agreement, LDC, WCO, UNESCAP

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

July 2014

Chittagong Port Sees Steady Increase in Container Handling

Bangladesh's Chittagong Port recorded a rise of 10.46% in container handling during fiscal year 2013-2014. This statistic counts as Chittagong Port's biggest growth in terms of cargo handled. ADB approved the Chittagong Port Trade Facilitation Project in October 2004 to increase the capacity of its container terminal.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, Transport, Bangladesh

July 2014

Policies to Enhance Trade Facilitation in South Asia and Southeast Asia

This Asian Development Bank Institute publication identifies the state of play of trade facilitation and provides an overview of intra- and inter-regional trade in South and Southeast Asia. Key challenges and bottlenecks to effective trade facilitation range from the lack of expert human resources, high border transaction costs, and the lack of effective dialogue on bilateral enhancement of trade facilitation.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, GMS, SAARC

June 2014

WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo Emphasizes Key Roles of Bangladesh and Nepal in Doha Development Agenda

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevêdo visited SASEC member countries Bangladesh on June 3, 2014 and Nepal on June 4-5, 2014, highlighting achievements of the recent Ninth WTO Ministerial Meeting held in Bali in December 2013, and discussing key trade issues.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, WTO, Trade Policy

May 2014

Launch of $1.5 Million Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction Technical Assistance for Trade Facilitation in Nepal

Mr. Madhu Kumar Marasini, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Finance represented the Government of Nepal at the official launch of activities under a $1.5 million technical assistance project financed by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, on 21 May 2014 in Kathmandu, Nepal. The capacity development technical assistance will support trade facilitation initiatives being carried out under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Trade Facilitation Program.

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, Nepal, SASEC, ADB, WCO, Poverty Reduction, Customs

May 2014

SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework 2014–2018 Endorsed by Members

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

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Tags: Trade Facilitation, Regional Cooperation, South Asia

February 2014

Launch of $1.5 million Japan fund for Poverty Reduction Technical Assistance in Bhutan for Trade Facilitation

Mr. Nim Dorji, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Finance represented the Royal Government of Bhutan at the official launch of activities under a $1.5 million technical assistance project financed by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR). The capacity development technical assistance will support trade facilitation initiatives carried out under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Trade Facilitation Program.

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Tags: Bhutan, Trade Facilitation, Technical Assistance

January 2014

Bali Trade and Development Symposium

The Bali Trade and Development Symposium (TDS) which took place on the sidelines of the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference discussed governmental and non-governmental stakeholder issues on trade and sustainable development and addressed challenges facing the multilateral trade system. Panelists emphasized the uncertain role of WTO negotiations and highlighted the need to focus on food security and renewable energy.

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Tags: Trade Policy, Trade Facilitation, WTO

November 2012

ADB Assisting South Asia to Reduce Trade Barriers

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

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

November 2012

SASEC Holds National Workshop on Revised Kyoto Convention

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

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

November 2012

SASEC Trade Facilitation and Transport Working Group Reviews $4 Billion Portfolio

Trade facilitation and transport officials of SASEC countries reviewed planned priority sub-regional projects totaling over $4 billion over the next three years.

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Tags: Bhutan, SASEC, Trade Facilitation, Transport

October 2012

Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2012

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

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

May 2012

SASEC Nodal Officials Meeting

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

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

April 2012

Historic Deal Between India and Pakistan

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

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

March 2012

Kunming Conference

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

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

March 2012

SASEC Trade Facilitation and Transport Working Group Meeting in Kolkata

Following the SASEC Trade Facilitation and Transport Working Group (TFTW) Meeting in Bangkok in October 2011 the TFTWG met again in Kolkata on 5 March 2012 and agreed on a list of investment and technical assistance projects.

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Tags: India, Investment, SASEC, Thailand, Trade Facilitation, Transport