The Kingdom of Bhutan is considered a development success story, with decreasing poverty and improvements in human development indicators. The Bank's engagement in Bhutan is aimed at supporting the government's goal of Gross National Happiness.
Read More »
There is great excitement for the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit being held this week in Kathmandu. A big question is whether there will be faster progress toward... Show More +s greater regional trade, which could boost economic growth and spread prosperity across South Asia. Against this backdrop, this article discusses the importance of a well-functioning free trade area in South Asia and how gains would be shared not only by the larger country (India), but also smaller countries in the region.South Asian leaders have long advocated for an economic union in South Asia. An essential condition for such a union is the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA). Though SAFTA came into effect in 2006 to promote mutual trade and economic cooperation, considerable work remains before South Asia’s 1.67 billion consumers can enjoy the benefits of free trade. Under SAFTA, all countries are allowed to maintain so-called “sensitive lists”, encompassing hundreds of products, where usual FTA tariff concessions do not apply. These lists are a major barrier to free trade and there are no determinate plans to eliminate them. Show Less -
WASHINGTON, November 24, 2014—Partners in the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) today announced $107 million in grants to five countries−Benin, Bhutan, Kenya, Laos PDR, and Timor Le... Show More +ste−for country-led initiatives to increase agriculture productivity, reduce poverty, and improve food and nutrition security.The world will need to produce at least 50 percent more food by 2050 to feed 9 billion people. GAFSP delivers targeted financing for the agriculture sector in low-income countries. It takes up where emergency and recovery assistance leaves off, targeting transformative and lasting long-term development.“GAFSP is an innovative mechanism that puts developing nations in the driver’s seat by supporting country-led strategies to expand agriculture and address hunger,” said Ms. Marisa Lago, Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development, United States Treasury. “It quickly responds to tough challenges, such as addressing the adverse effects of climate change on food production. The United States is a proud supporter of GAFSP as reflected in our additional 2014 contribution of $122.5 million." The Steering Committee allocated new funds to the following countries:In Benin, $24 million will stimulate food crop production in three areas with high agricultural potential and high levels of poverty.In Bhutan, $8 million in funding will focus on the seven poorest districts of Eastern Bhutan to promote agricultural productivity, improve water management, improve post-harvest and marketing infrastructure, and improve access to finance.In Kenya, $24 million will increase agricultural productivity and commercialization in four arid and semi-arid counties that suffer from chronic food deficits.In Lao PDR, $30 million will help to improve food and nutrition security among vulnerable households in the northern and southeastern highlands, two of the poorest regions in the country.In Timor Leste, $21 million will support sustainable commercialization of smallholder agriculture in 12 districts potentially reaching about 20 percent of the country’s population living in rural areas where poverty is entrenched.Ms Gita Kamath, Head of Agriculture and Food Branch, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said “Australia is pleased five more of the world's poorest countries −including in the Indo-Pacific region – will now have much-needed funds to enable them to undertake priority agriculture and food security programs. Australia has been a leading donor to GAFSP, a G20 initiative, since its inception.”The grants approved today were selected by GAFSP’s diverse Steering Committee comprised of representatives from donor and recipient countries, civil society organizations, and development institutions. Successful country proposals, chosen following a competitive and rigorous review process, demonstrate a high level of need, a supportive policy environment, and a comprehensive plan for agricultural development. The five grantee countries submitted strong proposals during the last Call but were left unfunded at the time due to lack of resources. The GAFSP Steering Committee expects to launch a new Call for Proposals for all eligible countries in early 2015.About GAFSP:GAFSP was established in the wake of the food price crisis to fund long-term solutions that build resilience, put policies in place to help people cope with food price volatility, and help avert future crises. To date, GASFP has received pledges amounting to $1.3 billion from Australia, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, Japan, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with funds going to countries that have strategic, innovative and credible plans already in place to improve agricultural productivity and food security. The United States has issued a funding challenge and agreed to provide an additional $1 to GAFSP for every $2 contributed by other donors, up to a total of $475 million. Show Less -