Promoting Participatory Approaches for Removing Regional Trade Barriers in South Asia (COENCOSA-Phase II)

In 2011, with support from The Asia Foundation and in partnership with a group of like-minded organisations, CUTS International implemented a project entitled Cost of Economic Non-Cooperation to Consumers in South Asia (COENCOSA). The study highlighted the gains that would accrue to consumers of five South Asian countries (viz. Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) from enhanced regional trade integration. While total static gain would be more than US$ 2 billion per year, dynamic gains would be much higher.

CUTS International and its partners along with the representatives of The Asia Foundation met in Kathmandu on 4th February, 2012, to discuss the contour of future interventions for removing regional trade barriers in South Asia. It was decided that other than raising awareness on the results of the existing study, future activities would focus on specific customs-related and/or other procedural non-tariff barriers faced by some specific commodities which are traded between India and other countries of the South Asia region. It was also decided that the core of the future activities would be result- and action-oriented so as to ensure some tangible and incremental progress towards reducing the cost of doing trade within the region. One of the outcomes of the project is the initiation of a regional network of stakeholders dealing with procedural and other non-tariff barriers affecting regional in South Asia.

Furthermore, it was decided that similar issues would be identified across countries in order to make the project-related activities more effective. Accordingly, CUTS International and its partners decided to focus on customs-related and procedural non-tariff barriers which constitute a significant part of the cost of doing trade within the South Asian region.

To take forward the agenda of regional economic cooperation in South Asia, a project entitled Promoting Participatory Approaches for Removing Regional Trade Barriers in South Asia (COENCOSA Phase II) was initiated. The duration of this project is 10 months – June 2012 to March 2013.