South Asia Sub regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) is facilitating trade guided by the SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework (2014–2018) in the sub-region through various projects.
The SASEC program:
The SASEC program was formed in 2001 in response to the request of the four countries of South Asia – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal – from ADB to assist in facilitating economic cooperation among them. These four countries comprise the South Asia Growth Quadrangle (SAGQ), formed in 1996, as a vehicle for accelerating sustainable economic development through regional cooperation. As a project-based partnership, the SASEC program has been helping realize regional prosperity by enhancing cross-border connectivity, facilitating faster and more efficient trade and promoting cross-border power trade. Maldives and Sri Lanka joined SASEC in 2014, further expanding opportunities for enhancing economic linkages in the sub-region.
South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program of Asian Development Bank (ADB) is expanding towards the East with Myanmar formally becoming the 7th member of SASEC in 2017.
The trade facilitation actions under SASEC are guided by the SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework (2014–2018), adopted by the SASEC members in March 2014
The Asian Development Bank is the secretariat and lead financier of the program, which to date has supported a total of 46 projects worth about $9.2 billion in transport, trade facilitation, energy, information and communications technology (ICT) and economic corridor development.
- The nine projects comprise of two rail projects inBangladesh worth $890 million, two economic corridor initiatives (a project and program loan) and a bridge project in India worth an aggregate of $1.2 billion, trade facilitation and airport projects in Bhutan worth $27 million and key SASEC road and energy projects in Nepal worth $302 million.
- All these projects are aligned with the SASEC OP’s thrusts of developing road and rail links aligned closely with trade routes toward the east, streamlining trade procedures, and improving energy infrastructure.
- These projects will receiveADB financing of $1.43 billion. These nine projects represent a significant increase compared to the previous 15 years, when the annual average value of projects approved was only about $500 million.
ADB assistance to India:
- Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been partnering with Indian Customs for sharing best practices and technical expertise with other countries under the SASEC umbrella.
- The through-transport arrangements being finalized among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) is an initiative that would help in seamless cross-border movement of vehicles/cargo among identified corridors bringing down transaction costs and delays and easing the border congestion.
- ADB is also supporting India to develop integrated solutions for enhancing their logistics efficiency, covering the infrastructure and connectivity needed, as well as a logistics facilitation model that would enable faster and more efficient vehicle/cargo movement.
- ADB has been following a consultative process in working with private sector stakeholders for raising awareness and building their capacity and to make sure their views are reflected in designing the national trade facilitation initiatives.