South Asian finance ministers launch Sasec Vision 2025Finance ministers of six South Asian countries and Myanmar on Monday launched the vision document of the South Asian Subregional Economic Cooperation (Sasec) to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the region.
Finance ministers of six South Asian countries and Myanmar on Monday launched the vision document of the South Asian Subregional Economic Cooperation (Sasec) to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the region.
South Asian finance ministers present on the occasion were from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Nepali Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara was also present on the occasion.
The Sasec Vision offers long-term strategy to support partnership among Sasec member countries, aligning their national level actions with regional initiatives to achieve sustained and inclusive economic growth. It also aims to share resources in the region to feed latent industry demand, strengthen industrial networks by tapping strengths of an individual country, and create symbiotic trade relationships by linking trade routes with stronger gateways and hubs to gain access to regional and global markets. The vision document has been launched at a time when trade among South Asian countries hovers around 5 percent of the total regional trade.
Against this backdrop, the Sasec project—a programme supported by the Asian Development Bank—plans to roll out 209 projects worth US$121.5 billion till 2025. Of these projects, 37 will be implemented in Nepal at an estimated cost of over $30 billion. The fund earmarked for implementation of various projects in Sasec member countries will be used to align land and sea routes to support efficient distribution and collection of goods, and ensure seamless movement people.
In this regard, roads will be upgraded or expanded, rail lines for routes that ferry high-volume cargoes will be increased, deep sea ports that can handle larger vessels will be developed, and congested international airports, including their storage spaces, will be expanded.
Also, more inland container depots will be built, land customs stations will be upgraded, and port infrastructure will be developed or expanded to cope with anticipated growth in container traffic.
These efforts to enhance connectivity will enable countries to gain better access to markets, paving the way for nations to integrate into regional and global value chains. This is ultimately expected to reduce trade costs and enhance competitiveness of different countries, raising the trade volume in the region.
To further facilitate regional trade, the Sasec project aims to simplify trade documentation, automate transit processes, develop infrastructure to facilitate quarantine checks, and integrate border clearance processes through national single windows.
The Sasec project also aims to improve cross-border transmission connectivity; promote power trade and cooperation in energy efficiency in the region; and enhance generation of clean energy.
Sasec was first launched in 2001. Till date, the ADB has approved 43 Sasec projects worth around $9 billion in transport, energy, trade facilitation, and information and communications technology.