SINGAPORE (6 March 2018) — Senior officials of member countries of the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program met on 5-6 March in Singapore to review progress of regional projects in transport, trade facilitation, and energy. They also updated and improved the SASEC operational plan, which has identified about 300 projects in transport, energy, and trade facilitation.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) organized the meeting and assisted with the updating of the operational plan.
“ADB is deeply committed to SASEC and will continue to play its role as secretariat for financial and technical support,” said Hun Kim, Director General of ADB’s South Asia Department. “In addition to loan and grant assistance amounting to $6.2 billion that ADB has extended to the SASEC program since the program’s inception in 2001, our indicative investment pipeline for 2018-2020 includes 26 loan projects with a total amount of about $5 billion.”
SASEC is a projects-based partnership, which aims to improve cross-border transport connectivity, promote energy trade, and facilitate faster and less-costly trade. Participating countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
Since SASEC’s establishment in 2001, participating countries have undertaken 49 projects in transport, energy, trade facilitation, and information and communications technology worth almost $11 billion.
In June 2016, SASEC countries endorsed their first-ever operational plan for 2016-2025, which outlines the strategic priorities of the program to support its objectives of improved connectivity and expanded trade. This was followed by the adoption of the SASEC vision document by the finance ministers of the member countries in April 2017 in New Delhi, India. The SASEC vision promotes leveraging natural resource-based industries by tapping latent industrial demand, developing regional value chains by creating industry-to-industry links, and enhancing connectivity within and between member countries. The updated operational plan identifies regional projects costing in total $132 billion.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region.