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SASEC countries plan greater economic cooperation
27
Sep '16
The six member countries of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) programme—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka— released this week, the SASEC Operational Plan (OP) 2016-2025. The SASEC OP is the programme's first comprehensive long-term plan to promote greater economic cooperation among the member countries. 
 
Established in 2001 with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as the secretariat and lead financier, the SASEC programme is a project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries, and strengthening regional economic cooperation. To date, ADB has approved 40 SASEC projects worth almost $7.7 billion in transport, energy, trade facilitation, and information and communications technology. 
 
Taking regional cooperation to a higher level, the SASEC's plan for the next ten years is to extend physical linkages not only within SASEC, but also with East and Southeast Asia, an official statement said.
 
The SASEC OP promotes the development of economic corridors within and between the member countries. It also identifies regional road and rail links aligned closely with trade routes toward the east. Planned measures to streamline and harmonise 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 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.
 
“The Indian government's Act East Policy resonates well with the objectives of the OP and we will work closely with our SASEC neighbours to develop the infrastructure needed to make our region's enterprises more competitive,” said Raj Kumar, joint secretary, Multilateral Institutions Division, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. (RKS)
 

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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