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Last updated: 27 Sep, 2016  

Handshake.9.Thmb.jpg SASEC releases plan to boost South Asian trade cooperation

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SME Times News Bureau | 27 Sep, 2016
The six member countries of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lank -- released this week, the SASEC Operational Plan (OP) 2016-2025.

ADB India Resident Mission Country Director M. Teresa Kho and ADB South Asia Department’s Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division Director Ronald Antonio Q. Butiong presented Monday copies of the SASEC OP to Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Multilateral Institutions Division, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance,Government of India.

The SASEC OP is the program's first comprehensive long-term plan to promote greater economic cooperation among the member countries.

Established in 2001, the SASEC program is a project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries, and strengthening regional economic cooperation.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the secretariat and lead financier of the SASEC program. To date, ADB has approved 40 SASEC projects worth almost $7.7 billion in transport, energy, trade facilitation, and information and communications technology.

The SASEC OP brings regional cooperation to a higher level. The plan in the next ten years is to extend physical linkages not only within SASEC, but also with East and Southeast Asia.

Speaking on the occasion, Raj Kumar said that India fully supports the SASEC OP as an important milestone in the SASEC program. He further said that the Indian Government's Act East Policy resonates well with the objectives of the OP and we will work closely with our SASEC neighbors to develop the infrastructure needed to make our region’s enterprises more competitive.

The SASEC OP identifies regional road and rail links aligned closely with trade routes toward the east. Planned measures to streamline and harmonize trade procedures will cover both land-based and sea-based routes.

This will open opportunities for the SASEC countries to participate more actively in regional value chains that are more advanced in Southeast Asia. The SASEC OP also promotes the development of economic corridors within and between the member countries.

The energy strategy under the SASEC OP aims to diversify the energy mix in the SASEC countries to cope with the projected increase in demand. The immediate priority is to improve energy infrastructure that will allow countries to access commercial sources of energy and diversify their fuel mix.

The SASEC OP identified over 200 potential transport, trade facilitation and energy projects, which will require over $120 billion in investments for the next five years, out of which 74 projects have been identified in India with an estimated project cost of over $60 billion. Majority of these projects are located in North East or Eastern part of the country.
 
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