1887

Unlocking the Potential of Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration in South Asia

Potential, Challenges and The Way Forward

image of Unlocking the Potential of Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration in South Asia

In the wake of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that commits all countries to pursue inclusive and sustainable development, regional economic cooperation and integration has gained new momentum in South Asia, as the broader Asian region is emerging as the new engine of global growth. Often referred to as the least integrated of Asian-Pacific sub-regions, South Asia’s intra-regional trade accounts for about 6 per cent of its total trade, in comparison with 26 per cent among South-East Asian countries. Despite its strategic location at the confluence of Central and South-East Asia, South Asia has also failed to harness the full potential of connectivity and economic integration with neighboring sub-regions. This report examines how countries in South Asia could capitalize on opportunities to cooperate for closer regional economic integration, in particular in the four broad areas of trade and market integration, regional connectivity, financial cooperation, and collective actions to address shared risks and vulnerabilities. It reveals that trade barriers, infrastructural deficits and political divergences have cost the sub-region direly in terms of lost opportunities for exports, in the amount of USD54 billion in 2014 for example. The report underscores the prospects available for South Asian countries to play a stronger role in broader regionalism in Asia-Pacific as well as discusses the unique role of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in facilitating that process.

English

.

SAARC and beyond: South Asia and broader regionalism in Asia-Pacific

As slowdown becomes the new normal for advanced economies, the traditional locomotives of the world economy, and as the centre of gravity of the world economy shifts eastwards, regionalism within and between subregions becomes a critical strategy for sustaining the Asia-Pacific region’s dynamism. For subregional groups, it is important to adopt a long-term vision and take incremental steps to achieve goals. ASEAN, for instance, has successfully moved towards the goal of the ASEAN Economic Community, achieved by 2015 in advance of its initial 2020 target. In SAARC’s case, an Eminent Persons Group back in 1999 proposed a long-term vision of a South Asian Economic Union to be achieved by 2020. SAARC now has the opportunity to revisit those proposals and articulate a vision and deadline. ECO could develop a similar vision for itself.

English

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error