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Why #OneSouthAsia?


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.




Blog series: Trade in South Asia


What's New

The World Bank's work to support South Asia regional integration

See examples of our regional connectivity work

Sept. 24, 2021 - Our regional cooperation work in South Asia prioritizes economic connectivity by improving transport links, reducing trade barriers, and supporting digital technology. All can create sustainable, inclusive jobs and opportunities.
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Lessons for attracting foreign investment to South Asia

July 12, 2021 - Foreign investment is crucial for economic growth in South Asia. The Invest India trade promotion program boosted inflows to a record $64 billion in 2020 despite the pandemic and offers lessons for neighboring nations.
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Bangladeshi women wait for relief. Copyright: Mamunur Rashid/Shutterstock

Damaged by the disaster: The impact of COVID-19 on firms in South Asia

April 19, 2021 - The World Bank’s Business Pulse Survey of more than 130,000 firms around the world indicates COVID-19 hit firms harder in South Asia than firms in other regions. Within South Asia, small and women-led firms have higher rates of closure.
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South Asia Economic Focus, Spring 2021

March 31, 2021 - South Asia's recovery is fragile and uneven with some industry and export sectors nearly back to pre-COVID levels while labor-intensive sectors still lag. Regionwide economic growth is projected at 7.2% this year, led by India's 10% growth.
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Policy changes to help women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh

Jan 24, 2021 - Women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh are a potent source of future jobs. But to overcome barriers, women need help accessing bank loans, digital skills, export markets, and other tools. This report recommends ways to support an inclusive economy.
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Regional actions can strengthen food trade, supply

Nov 23, 2020 - Sharing food data can help South Asian nations improve transboundary farm trade and stabilize prices for consumers, experts said at a #OneSouthAsia online conversation. The region also needs to work together on climate change impacts on farmers.
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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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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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Digital services are key to future jobs -- if policy makers ease protectionism

Oct. 7, 2021 - South Asia's digital and business services offer job growth if countries can attract more foreign direct investment. FDI accounts for only 14% of regional GDP -- vs. a global average of 41% -- due to trade barriers and poor infrastructure.
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Distributional Impacts of Trade: Empirical Innovations, Analytical Tools, and Policy Responses

May 19, 2021 - Trade creates a stronger economy with better jobs -- and winners and losers. Trade benefits can be spread more widely with policies to reduce distortions, make it easier to do business, and help dislocated workers find new jobs.
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Women in Trade: A Spotlight on Eastern South Asia

Jan 24, 2021 - Trade is a powerful tool for BBIN economic growth but women need to benefit to the same extent as men. This report highlights work barriers that women face and sectors with greatest potential for them to find jobs.
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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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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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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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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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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.

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Cecile Fruman
Regional Integration and Engagement - South Asia