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Trade

Intraregional trade accounts for barely 5 percent of South Asia's total trade, compared to the ASEAN region where intraregional trade makes up 25 percent. Trade among South Asian countries currently totals just $23 billion -- far below an estimated value of at least $67 billion.

 

Border challenges mean it is about 20 percent cheaper for a company in India to trade with Brazil instead of a neighboring South Asian country. Trade has been limited by several factors such as inadequate road, marine, and air transport. Other constraints include protective tariffs, real and perceived nontariff barriers, restrictions on investments, and a broad trust deficit throughout the region.

 

Our activities support dialogue to build bridges in the region, both figuratively and actual. The World Bank works with a number of partners, including the South Asia Regional Trade Facilitation Program and the Program for Asia Connectivity and Trade, to provide analyses and technical assistance to strengthen trade links. Some activities are listred below.

 

 

Related:

Blog series: Trade in South Asia

 

What's New

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Regional collaboration can help South Asian nations rebuild tourism

July 23, 2020 - Sharing visitor data and creating multi-nation itineraries are among the ways South Asian nations can collaborate to rebuild a stronger tourism industry after the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Four actions to speed up Pakistan's exports recovery

June 12, 2020 - To maximize exports, Pakistan should ease restrictions on imported inputs, help companies comply with international standards, protect intellectual property rights, and use online marketing platforms to promote goods.
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Free Class: Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains

June 3, 2020 - Sign up by August 19 for a free World Bank class on EDX.org about global value chains (GVCs) and how countries can work together to ensure that GVC benefits are shared and sustained.
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S.Asia must ramp up COVID-19 action to protect people, revive economies

April 12 – South Asia must ramp up action to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, protect the poorest, and set the stage for economic recovery, the World Bank said. Its South Asia Economic Focus forecast regional growth at 1.8 to 2.8 percent in 2020, the worst in 40 years.
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Short and Long-Run Labor Market Effects of Developing Country Exports: Evidence from Bangladesh

March 9, 2020 - This policy research working paper examines how the rise in garment-sector exports that began at the end of the Multifibre Arrangement (MFA) impacted Bangladesh’s labor markets and narrowed the male--female wage gap.
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Analyzing Female Employment Trends in South Asia

Feb. 19, 2020 - Jobs data from nearly 100 sources in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka indicate that female employment participation has been low and broadly unchanged since 2001.
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Empowering South Asian women

Jan. 29, 2020 - The Business, Enterprise and Employment Support (BEES) network, created to empower South Asian women in 2011, is now able to support cross-border learning and collective action.
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Regional integration in South Asia: Implications for Green Growth, Female Labor Force Participation, and the Gender Wage Gape

Jan 22, 2020 - This research paper examines how eliminating tariffs in South Asia would impact wages and jobs, by gender. Understanding gender outcomes could help policymakers target trade liberalization in sectors that would help women.
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Can e-commerce drive trade in South Asia?

Dec 17, 2019 - Boosting regional e-commerce in South Asia requires a combination of measures to address consumer protection, data privacy, payments, deliveries, and market access regulations, according to a new World Bank report.
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Over 500,000 farming households are expected to benefit from a new agribusiness project in India.

India's North Eastern region is poised to capitalize on its core strengths

Dec. 14, 2019 - Prior to 1947, India's North Eastern region flourished as a prosperous trade and commerce hub. The Dibrugarh-Chittagong railway line was one of the first rail lines in Asia, connecting India to world markets.
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To strengthen trade, South Asia needs multi-faceted approach

Dec. 12, 2019 - Recent events in South Asia show how intraregional trade can fall victim to political tensions. They also highlight how important it is to insulate economic relations from politics.
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VIDEO

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VIDEO Sep 25, 2018

Bringing the people of Bangladesh and India together through border markets

Small markets, or haats, along the Bangladesh and India border recapture the once thriving economic and cultural relationships that existed before national borders were created.

Publications

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Women and Trade: The Role of Trade in Promoting Gender Equality

July 30, 2020 - Trade creates good paying jobs for women and cuts costs for consumers. But gains come only if trade barriers are lifted. Women exporters in Pakistan said they face Customs officers’ arbitrary decisions, reckless handling of goods, and bribe demands.
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COVID-19 and Tourism in South Asia

July 23, 2020 - As South Asia moves from crisis to recovery planning, governments and destinations can think strategically about the future of tourism. The pandemic has caused region-wide losses of more than $50 billion in GDP in the travel and tourism sector.
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South Asia Economic Focus - Spring 2020

April 12, 2020 - The World Bank's South Asia Economic Focus forecast regional growth will fall to a range of 1.8 to 2.8 percent in 2020, down from 6.3 percent projected six months ago. That would be the region’s worst performance in 40 years.
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Unleashing e-Commerce for South Asian Integration

Dec 17, 2019 - South Asia lags other regions in activating potential benefits from e-commerce. This report recommends regulatory reforms, such as allowing cross-border payments, streamlining customs, and liberalizing related cross-border logistics services.
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Playing to Strengths : A Policy Framework for Mainstreaming Northeast India

Dec 13, 2019 - India's aim to strengthen prosperity in its North Eastern Region (NER), offers the opportunity to strengthen connectivity with neighboring Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal and allow value chains to scale up.
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South Asia Economic Focus, Fall 2019

Oct. 12, 2019 - The World Bank reduced GDP growth forecasts for South Asia due to a worsening global outlook. The bank sees a modest recovery to 6.3 percent in 2020 and 6.7 percent in 2021, but said its forecasts are highly uncertain due to current circumstances.
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Strengthening Cross-Border Value Chains: Opportunities for India and Bangladesh

Dec 13, 2019 - Cross-border value chains in North East India and neighboring Bangladesh could help expand trade for both in fruits and vegetables, spices, bamboo products, and medical-based tourism.
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Exports to Jobs: Boosting the Gains from Trade in South Asia

Feb. 24, 2019 - To broadly share the benefits from exports, South Asia needs to raise skills and get women and youth into better jobs. Removing trade barriers and investing in infrastructure would also help.
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A Glass Half Full: The Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia

Sept. 19, 2018 - Potential trade within South Asia has been held back by tariffs and paratariffs, real and perceived nontariff barriers, connectivity costs, and a lack of trust among neighboring countries.
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South Asia Regional Trade Integration Program Completion Report

Oct. 24, 2018 - A platform developed in the Central Asia South Asia Transmission Project (CASA-1000) can help Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan sell surplus power to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The South Asia Regional Trade Integration Program supported the project.
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Business and Entrepreneurship Development through Tourism Promotion in Punjab - Assessment and Improvement of Women Participation in Economic Activities Around Selected Sites

Oct. 4, 2019 - The Pakistan government aims to expand tourism but many attractions are in poor condition and not protected, marketed, or branded. Tourism directly contributed $328 million to Pakistan's 2015 GDP, or 2.8 percent.
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Initial Assessment of 23 Sites with Reference to Women Entrepreneurship Development through Tourism Promotion in Punjab

Oct. 4, 2019 - A World Bank study examined the business landscape and customer experiences at 23 tourist sites and the economic impacts for youth and women. The businesses, on average, employed at least one male under 25 but only two businesses employed women.
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