Regional: Support for South Asia Regional Economic Cooperation
South Asia has posted strong economic growth in recent years and has increased its share of the world output from 4.4% in 1997 to almost 6% in 2008. However, South Asia is not the only region with the largest number of people living below the poverty line; it is also the least integrated region in Asia with only 5.5% of intra-regional trade share in 2008. Furthermore, the recent uncertainties caused by various shocks including climate change , spike in food prices, volatile energy prices, and the global economic crisis have challenged the growth potential and have adversely impacted the lives of the region's poor. Increased regional cooperation in South Asia and beyond, particularly increased regional connectivity, allows for inclusive growth by producing increased access to markets, goods, and services across borders.
Butiong, Ronald Antonio Q.
South Asia Department
Request for information
- Technical Assistance
|Project Name||Support for South Asia Regional Economic Cooperation|
|Country / Economy||Regional
|Project Type / Modality of Assistance||Technical Assistance
|Source of Funding / Amount||
|Strategic Agendas||Inclusive economic growth
|Drivers of Change||Governance and capacity development
|Sector / Subsector||
Energy / Electricity transmission and distribution
Industry and trade / Trade and services
Transport / Rail transport (non-urban) - Road transport (non-urban) - Transport policies and institutional development
|Gender Equity and Mainstreaming||No gender elements|
South Asia has posted strong economic growth in recent years and has increased its share of the world output from 4.4% in 1997 to almost 6% in 2008. However, South Asia is not the only region with the largest number of people living below the poverty line; it is also the least integrated region in Asia with only 5.5% of intra-regional trade share in 2008. Furthermore, the recent uncertainties caused by various shocks including climate change , spike in food prices, volatile energy prices, and the global economic crisis have challenged the growth potential and have adversely impacted the lives of the region's poor. Increased regional cooperation in South Asia and beyond, particularly increased regional connectivity, allows for inclusive growth by producing increased access to markets, goods, and services across borders. Regional cooperation could also mobilize private investments, counter the impact of declining financial flows, and significantly reduce the share of population living below the poverty line. The recent shocks together with changes in the political landscape provide a window of opportunity for countries in South Asia to revisit and possibly strive to deepen regional cooperation.
Regional cooperation has recently been gaining momentum in South Asia. While regional cooperation initiatives have successfully identified potential regional projects in key sectors such as transport and trade facilitation, energy, tourism, and ICT, implementation of tangible regional projects have not yet fully materialized. There is also a growing notion of the incoherence of regional projects with national programs and the belief that national priorities should also take precedence over regional ones. The main challenges facing regional cooperation in South Asia are the operationalization and implementation of the regional vision and regional cooperation agenda, including the limited capacity to prioritize and implement specific projects. Synergy between national and regional programs has not been maximized. Concerns on the negative effect of regional cooperation on national priorities and interests have to be addressed by demonstrating the benefits of regional cooperation to the general public and key policymakers alike. Based on lessons learned from previous RETAs, discussing the benefits of regional cooperation and effectively disseminating findings of RCI studies could aid in (i) increasing political and public awareness and support for regional cooperation initiatives in South Asia to help advance regional cooperation with less resistance; (ii) promoting greater interest and involvement from development partners and the private sector to contribute more significantly to funding regional projects in the region.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy||
The TA is in line with ADB's Regional Cooperation Strategy and Program (RCSP) for South Asia (2006-2008) that supports regional cooperation through the South Asian Association Regional Cooperation (SAARC), interregional cooperation through the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), and subregional cooperation through the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Program.
In line with ADB?s commitment under Strategy 2020 to allocate at least 30% of its overall operations for regional cooperation, this TA will support participating countries and regional organizations in further identifying, prioritizing, and preparing regional projects and national projects with regional implications to move forward regional cooperation in South Asia.
The TA adopts a flexible, pragmatic, multi-track approach to advance regional, subregional, interregional and bilateral cooperation in South Asia with focus on fast-tracking the implementation of tangible projects particularly in transport, energy, and trade facilitation as agreed at the High Level Forum on Emerging Vision for Shared Prosperity: South Asia and Beyond, held on 16-17 April 2009.
ADB has also provided support for networking among think tanks to provide governments with policy recommendations on regional cooperation and integration issues (Track 2 approach).
|Impact||Enhanced support for regional economic cooperation in South Asia.|
|Description of Outcome||Agreed priority regional projects and activities and national projects with regional implications|
|Progress Toward Outcome||
Regional cooperation initiative in South Asia is slowly gaining momentum. Working Groups on important sectors such as Trade Facilitation, Transport, and Energy are meeting on a more regular basis to discuss existing and planned projects in the subregion.
The RETA has been instrumental in countries reaching agreement on important SASEC projects such as:
1. The Trade Facilitation Program loan covering Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh
2. SASEC Road Network for Bhutan to be processed in 2014
3. The Subregional Railway Connectivity that will improve the railway transport capacity along the Dhaka-Chittagong rail corridor.
4. The SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework
|Description of Project Outputs||
Facilitated discussions and agreements on priority regional projects
Studies and papers on regional cooperation topics, with a focus on prefeasibility studies of priority regional projects
Awareness building regional conferences and forums
|Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)||
Various Working Group Meetings were held to discuss the activities under the RETA:
(i) Trade Facilitation and Transport Working Group; and Energy Working Group met on 20-21 October 2011 and 21-22 October 2011, respectively, in Bangkok to (i) finalize the scope of regional transport projects for ADB financing in 2012 with focus on high priority regional road networks; (ii) agree on a priority list of projects in trade facilitation for investment and technical assistance; and (iii) finalize a short list of specific investments from a pipeline of energy projects identified earlier, which can be implemented in collaboration with ADB.
(ii) In March 2012 the Trade Facilitation and Transport Working Group again met in Kolkata, India. The Meeting agreed on the scope of the transport connectivity project and development of associated land customs stations with improved facilities and procedures that will lower costs of trade and ensure efficient flow of goods and people across the borders. The Meeting also considered the framework for trade facilitation program support for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal; and technical assistance to support capacity building for trade facilitation.
(iii) In November 2012 a Trade Facilitation and Transport Working Group; and Energy Working Group Meetings were held in Thimphu Bhutan.
(iv) The Meetings of the Working Groups on Trade Facilitation and Transport, and Energy were successfully held on 5-6 November 2014 in Kathmandu, Nepal. They reached agreement of priority SASEC projects and activities for the next three years.
(v) In November 2015, the SASEC Trade Facilitation and Transport Working Group Meeting was held in Tokyo, Japan and the countries discussed the priority SASEC projects in trade and transport sectors.
Knowledge sharing events were also held including:
(i) A regional conference on RCI knowledge sharing was held in Kunming, PRC in March 2012 attended by senior officials from the various regional cooperation initiatives supported by ADB, including CAREC, GMS, and SASEC.
(ii) ADB also collaborated with the Center for Policy Dialogue of Bangladesh in organizing a workshop on Recent Developments in Myanmar held on 15 March 2012 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The workshop reviewed new developments in Myanmar and identify opportunities to facilitate regional cooperation in the region.
(iii) In 2015, national and subregional training workshops on various areas of customs modernization recommended under the SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework were held at the request of the member countries.
The RETA also supported preparation of knowledge products including:
(i) The study on Food Security has been completed.
(ii) The study on the Indian Ocean Cargo and Ferry Services Study has been completed and the report has been submitted to the governments.
(iii) The SASEC Operational Plan for 2016-2025 was also developed under the financing of the RETA.
SASEC Nodal Officials Meeting is also held annually at the sidelines of the ADB Annual Meeting. The last Meeting was held last May 2017 in Yokohama, Japan. Myanmar officially becomes a member of SASEC in 2017.
The RETA also provided assistance in various economic corridor development work such as the VCIC.
The RETA also financed the preparation of the final report on the comprehensive development plan for the Colombo-Trincomalee Economic Corridor. The report is to be submitted to government this March 2018. Dissemination workshop on this report was conducted in April 2018.
|Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects|
|Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation|
|During Project Design|
|During Project Implementation|
|Consulting Services||A total of 133 person-months of consultancy services will be engaged for this TA. Of the 133 person-months, a total of 108 person-months of consultancy services will be needed for 3 national consultants who will be based in ADB Headquarters. The national consultants will be engaged as (i) regional cooperation advisor; (ii) senior regional cooperation specialist; and (iii) senior programs analyst/regional cooperation expert. They will provide technical and logistical inputs and assistance to TA-related activities. National consultants who will be In-country regional cooperation specialist(s) will be engaged in resident mission(s) for 12 person-months each while 13 person-months of international consultancy will be required fro thematic experts and capacity development specialists. Consultants will be engaged in accordance with the Guidelines on the Use of Consultants.|
|Responsible ADB Officer||Butiong, Ronald Antonio Q.|
|Responsible ADB Department||South Asia Department|
|Responsible ADB Division||Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Div, SARD|
Asian Development Bank
Cuong Minh Nguyen
6 ADB Avenue,
Mandaluyong City 1550, Philippines Asian Development Bank
6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City 1550, Philippines
|Concept Clearance||22 Sep 2009|
|Fact Finding||11 Mar 2010 to 25 Mar 2010|
|Approval||27 Jan 2010|
|Last Review Mission||-|
|PDS Creation Date||05 Jun 2009|
|Last PDS Update||06 Sep 2018|
|Approval||Signing Date||Effectivity Date||Closing|
|27 Jan 2010||-||27 Jan 2010||31 Dec 2012||31 Dec 2018||15 Mar 2019|
|Financing Plan/TA Utilization||Cumulative Disbursements|
|6,920,000.00||0.00||0.00||0.00||0.00||0.00||6,920,000.00||04 Feb 2022||6,664,414.63|
Project Data Sheets (PDS) contain summary information on the project or program. Because the PDS is a work in progress, some information may not be included in its initial version but will be added as it becomes available. Information about proposed projects is tentative and indicative.
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|Title||Document Type||Document Date|
|Support for South Asia Regional Economic Cooperation: Technical Assistance Completion Report||TA Completion Reports||Aug 2019|
|Support for South Asia Regional Economic Cooperation||TA Change in Scope, Amount, and Implementation Arrangements||Mar 2013|
|Support for South Asia Regional Economic Cooperation||Technical Assistance Reports||Jan 2010|
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|Title||Document Type||Document Date|
|Sri Lanka’s Macroeconomic Challenges: A Tale of Two Deficits||Papers and Briefs||Mar 2019|
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