The SASEC program was formed in 2001 in response to the request of the four countries of South Asia – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal – from ADB to assist in facilitating economic cooperation among them. These four countries comprise the South Asia Growth Quadrangle (SAGQ), formed in 1996, as a vehicle for accelerating sustainable economic development through regional cooperation.
As a project-based partnership, the SASEC program has been helping realize regional prosperity by enhancing cross-border connectivity, facilitating faster and more efficient trade and promoting cross-border power trade. Maldives and Sri Lanka joined SASEC in 2014, further expanding opportunities for enhancing economic linkages in the sub-region.
SASEC countries agreed on priority sectors for investment and coordinated action
- Transport — SASEC aims to put in place the critical multi-modal transport networks that will enhance intraregional trade and investment in the subregion and, in turn, boost economic growth. SASEC works to strengthen road, rail, and air links, as well as developing port infrastructure to match the needs of the region’s growing economies, and to support the SAARC transport corridor network.
- Trade Facilitation — SASEC is helping speed up the time and reduce the costs of trading across borders throughout the subregion. Regional SASEC trade facilitation initiatives are creating modern customs administrations that are compliant with the terms and provisions of the Revised Kyoto Convention, streamlined and transparent cross-border trade regulations and procedures, and improved information and services for the private sector.
- Energy — SASEC is working to improve energy access and security in the region by developing essential infrastructure, and promoting intraregional power trade to reduce costs and import dependence. SASEC energy initiatives focus on renewable energy.
- Economic Corridor Development — SASEC is promoting synergies and linkages between economic corridors across SASEC countries to optimize development gains, including industrial growth and competitiveness, the creation of high-quality jobs, increased productivity, and the strengthening existing value chains.
- South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program of Asian Development Bank (ADB) is expanding towards the East with Myanmar formally becoming the 7th member of SASEC in 2017.
- Myanmar is key to realizing greater connectivity and stronger trade and economic relations between the SASEC sub-region and the countries of East and Southeast Asia and that Myanmar’s membership in SASEC can offer a host of opportunities for realizing synergies from economic cooperation in the sub-region.
- SASEC member countries recognize that most of SASEC’s multimodal connectivity initiatives include Myanmar.
- Road corridors in Myanmar provide the key links between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
- Ports in Myanmar will provide additional gateways to the landlocked North Eastern region of India.
- Development of multi-modal connectivity between North Eastern region of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar has the potential of unleashing tremendous economic energy in the sub-region.
- SASEC’s energy connectivity and energy trade prospects will be enhanced with the inclusion of Myanmar, involving its substantial resources of hydropower and natural gas.
Moreover, developmental impacts of economic corridor in the SASEC sub-region will be maximized by exploring potential synergies with corridors in Myanmar that are linked to those in other Southeast Asian countries.
ADB serves as the SASEC Secretariat, working with member governments to help implement SASEC projects and initiatives and to provide technical support. The SASEC Secretariat also coordinates capacity-building activities and works to identify necessary technical organizations and development partners to strengthen training and knowledge-building programs for member countries. It provides overall coordination, administrative and logistical assistance to the member countries.