MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Senior officials from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal met at the Asian Development Bank headquarters in Manila on 4 to 5 June 2007 for the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) 4th Country Advisors' Meeting (CAM) to discuss strategies and future directions for regional cooperation among SASEC participating countries.
During the two-day meeting, senior officials expressed their satisfaction with the progress of activities under the program and emphasized the need for more collaboration among sector Working Groups. Stressing the need to accelerate the formulation and implementation of projects, the country advisors endorsed the Information Highway Project; the Tourism Development Project; and the Transport Logistics and Trade Facilitation Project. The endorsement of these projects reiterated the four countries' commitment to foster regional cooperation in South Asia.
Regional cooperation and integration has been viewed by ADB and the four SASEC participating countries as an integral tool to the region's fight against poverty.
"Greater regional economic cooperation can help promote economic and social development by expanding markets for goods, services, and investment; encouraging better allocation and utilization of existing resources through trade and investment liberalization; improving cross-border connectivity; promoting joint projects for better utilization of natural resources; and reducing negative regional externalities and conflict," said Mr. Kunio Senga, Director General of ADB's South Asia Department.
They hoped these projects will bring a positive change to the region's development landscape and contribute to poverty alleviation by improving regional connectivity, increasing access to information and communications technology, generating higher tourism revenues, and facilitating the efficient movement of goods, services and peoples within the region.
SASEC was launched in 2001 with ADB assistance to support and facilitate regional cooperation initiatives in six priority sectors: energy and power; environment; information and communication technology; tourism; trade, investment, and private sector cooperation; and transport. It provides a venue for policy dialogue, information sharing and confidence building among participating countries to enable better economic cooperation.