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Myanmar Boosts Ties with South Asia as SASEC's Newest Member

News Release | 31 March 2017

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (31 March 2017) — Myanmar has become the seventh member of the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) partnership, opening up new markets and supply chain links for trade and business between South Asia and Southeast Asia. 

“Myanmar’s participation in SASEC is expected to further promote and accelerate inter-subregional cooperation between South Asia and Southeast Asia and beyond, and will contribute significantly to achieving the future development goals of both subregions,” said Ronald Butiong, Director for Regional Cooperation for ADB’s South Asia Department.

SASEC countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka — coordinate the planning of projects and activities to increase economic growth by building transport connectivity, facilitating faster and more efficient trade, and promoting cross-border power trade. To date, SASEC members have invested more than $9 billion in development projects, which have connected markets and businesses over the last 15 years in the subregion. ADB serves as the SASEC Secretariat.

“Myanmar is key to realizing greater connectivity and stronger trade and economic relations between the SASEC subregion and the countries of East and Southeast Asia. Myanmar’s membership in SASEC can offer a host of opportunities for realizing synergies from economic cooperation in the subregion,” said Shaktikanta Das, Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs in India’s Ministry of Finance. 

Road corridors in Myanmar provide the key links between South Asia and Southeast Asia, while ports in the country can provide alternate routes and gateways to the landlocked northeastern region of India. Developing multimodal connectivity between India’s northeastern region, Bangladesh, and Myanmar has the potential to unleash significant economic potential and bring better livelihoods to millions in the region.

Transport linkages between South and Southeast Asia will also become more attractive to businesses once ongoing and planned motor vehicle agreements are finalized and implemented. Negotiations are underway to allow passenger, personal, and cargo vehicles to cross international borders much faster and with fewer border formalities, saving time and money.

Myanmar’s membership comes in advance of the first SASEC meeting of Finance Ministers that will be held in New Delhi on 3 April 2017. SASEC members will announce their vision for SASEC to accelerate and sustain the growth momentum in the region by unlocking their natural resources, industry, and infrastructure through subregional cooperation.

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, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region.