Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations

Seminar Details

13 Dec 2006

Brainstorming Session on “Regional Cooperation and Integration in South Asia”
 
 
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
 
A brainstorming session on regional cooperation in South Asia was organized by ICRIER in New Delhi on December 13, 2006 where several experts put forward their perspectives. The session was moderated by Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Director and CE of ICRIER. Initiating the discussion, Mr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman from the Asian Development Bank, underlined the need to not only strengthen the regional economic cooperation between the SAARC countries but also integrating their economic activities through freer trade. The session endorsed the view expressed by a participant that South Asia seems to be focusing more on trading with the rest of the world than within itself. Due to several constraints the transaction costs of trading with neighbours, ironically, are much higher than with other countries. Several problem areas that were identified were: transportation hurdles, tariff and non-tariff barriers, checks on FDI flows, and lack of transparency in liberalization policies among SAARC countries. The experts felt that every country gains out of the open trade, though initially the smaller countries, namely Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, may reap higher gains in the short run. A concerted effort and reciprocity among SAARC countries will help enhance the potential in sectors like energy, health services, climate change and tourism. It was also suggested in this context that each country in the region should champion a particular sector.

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