The 12th #OneSouthAsia Conversation, explored the potentials and constraints of greater economic collaboration between South Asia and Southeast Asia. It built on the World Bank's latest analysis on Deepening Linkages between South Asia and Southeast Asia, which explores new approaches to revitalize trade and economic links between the two regions, focusing on areas like digital, environmental goods, and services.
South Asia is among the most vulnerable regions to climate risks. More than half of all South Asians, or 750 million people, were affected by one or more climate-related disasters in the last two decades. The 11th OneSouthAsia Conversation focused on the ways South Asian countries can leverage innovation and technologies to build climate resilience and collaborative cross-border solutions.
South Asian countries can tap the immense digital potential with better infrastructure, improved digital skills, enhanced digital inclusion and protection. Also, more can be done to unlock opportunities by improving access to capacity and connecting currently disadvantaged landlocked countries; boosting cross-border digital payments cross border data flows.
The nascent power trade among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal is poised to expand as nations harmonize energy policies, hydropower and transmission plans, technical specifications, and commercial requirements. A #OneSouthAsia Conversation explored the benefits and challenges ahead.
Governments can help the private sector create jobs by easing restrictions on investments so companies can open trade offices, build manufacturing plants, and license services in a neighboring country. Also needed are transboundary industry meetings and women’s networks -- low-cost actions with high impact.
Rapid advances in digital platforms, AI, Big Data, and other technology offer ways to improve social services and job opportunities throughout South Asia. A key step is for the region to work together on policies that narrow the digital divide and set data governance protections for all.
About 95 percent of South Asians are breathing air that fails international safety standards. Dirty air from brick kilns, wood stoves, vehicles, and industrial plants blows across national boundaries and requires a collaborative response.
Plastic pollution is choking the major rivers and seas of South Asia, affecting the health and livelihoods of 2 billion people. The World Bank is working with all eight nations to build a circular economy for plastic and find innovative substitutes for its use.
Seamless Bangladesh-India transport links can boost national incomes, speed up shipments, and cut costs, benefitting millions. Steps needed include simplifying border procedures, adding multimodal options, and fully adopting the 2015 Motor Vehicles Agreement.
South Asia has the lowest rate of women entrepreneurs among global regions. To rebuild after COVID-19, South Asia needs women-led businesses to drive innovative services and products, create jobs, and close gender gaps.
The pandemic pushed food prices up 10% in South Asia. Regional cooperation can help stabilize food supplies by easing trade barriers and managing climate change impacts on crop production.
Regional cooperation to find solutions to shared problems can help South Asia rebuild after COVID-19. Intraregional trade, for instance, is only one-third of its potential with an estimated gap of $23 billion.