Regional Integration in South Asia

Ongoing Projects

Gender Dimensions of Trade Facilitation Agreement: Evidence from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (GDTFA)

In December 2017, at WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, 118 WTO member countries and observers have agreed to make collective efforts in curbing gender discrimination and start the same by emphasising on building gender inclusive trade and development policies. CUTS International along with its country partners from Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal with the support from U.K’s Department for International Development is implementing this project with an aim to prepare cases in favour of gender inclusive trade policies to enhance participation of women in trade and related income-generating activities. The evidence will be collected from women led/managed/owned Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in BBIN countries.

Mainstreaming Gender in International Trade (MGIT)

CUTS efforts on integrating gender sensitive initiatives in trade negotiations at bilateral and multilateral level has been an on-going task. Grassroot insights from South Asia indicates that mainstreaming gender in international trade begins at the national and sub-regional level. For example, border markets along the borders of South Asian and East African countries exhibit similar trade practices, with slightly different governance and regulation mechanisms. Hence the women traders within these border markets generate different models of revenue turn-out. Cross-regional interventions and exchange of policy practices can enhance the participation of women in international trade.

Demystifying Non-Tariff Barriers to India-Bangladesh Trade in Agricultural Products and their Linkages with Food Security and Livelihood (NTBAGR)

Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh is affected by a plethora of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) that act as major barriers and undermine the potential of trade between these two nations. NTBs are particularly harmful in case of agriculture products which not only escalate the cost of products but also restrict effective market access for producers and consumers. This project aims to identify and document the bottlenecks and challenges faced by Indian exporters and importers while trading with Bangladesh, particularly in agricultural trade. This project also sheds light on other related issues of trade & livelihood and trade & food security.

South Asia Regional Connectivity Conference (SARCC)

The goal of this project is to bring together key interlocutors to discuss challenges and solutions to economic, investment, and security issues relevant to South Asia and the United States. CUTS is collaborating with East West Center (United States), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (India) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (Bangkok, Thailand) for this project which is funded by the US State Department.

Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement: Facilitating implementation and stakeholder buy-in in the BBIN sub-region (BBINMVA)

South Asia is one of the least integrated and connected regions of the world. Intra-regional trade is around five per cent of the total trade of South Asian countries. This lack of connectivity and integration has long been accepted as one of the biggest contributors to the sub-optimal utilisation of the region’s economic potential.

Linkages and Impacts of Cross-Border Informal Trade in Agricultural Inputs in Eastern South Asia (LITA)

With an objective to understand the dynamics of informal trade in agricultural inputs across the border of India-Bangladesh and India-Nepal, and its impact on livelihoods of farmers, including the gender dimension of those impacts, CUTS International has undertaken a project titled “Linkages and Impacts of Cross-Border Informal Trade in Agricultural Inputs in Eastern South Asia”, with support from Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Indo Asia Connectivity for Shared prosperity

14-15 December, 2016 Kolkata
The Asia rebalancing policy of United States of America underpins the economic and strategic importance of the Asia-Pacific region in the evolving new “global economic and strategic order” of the 21st Century.

Promoting Consumer and Producer Gains (PCPG)

The purpose of this project is to facilitate trade in agricultural products between Bangladesh and a North East Indian state – Tripura – through knowledge generation, facilitative public-private dialogues and evidence-based advocacy.

Trade and Transport Facilitation Audit in South Asia (TTFA)

The purpose of this project is to provide remedies to the transportation system so as to reduce the time consumption while doing trade, thus to contribute towards economic growth and poverty alleviation in South Asia by enhancing economic integration in the region.

Indo-Bangla Trade Assessment- Phase II (IBTA-II)

The purpose of this project is to examine the key issues which affect bilateral trade between Bangladesh and India through land routes and to explore trade opportunities and welfare outcomes that can be generated by addressing such issues. In particular, the project will assess the benefits of two trade related bilateral agreements between Bangladesh and India namely; Motor Vehicle Agreement and an agreement on Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary measures.

Projects Completed

Impact of The Asia Foundation’s Work on Trade Issues in South Asia

There is significant potential in South Asia for increased trade and strengthening economic relations. Intra-regional trade remains below par due to a number of factors, including weak infrastructure, low levels of investment, and non-tariff barriers.

The work undertaken by The Asia Foundation (TAF) and its partners, including CUTS International, strive to improve the situation in South Asia through initiatives to increase economic opportunities, strengthen partnerships among stakeholders, and improve responsiveness of public authorities. In order to better understand the impact of TAF’s work in these areas and support the goals of their programmes, activities to analyse the impact of their interventions in trade-related areas is being carried out by CUTS.

Regional Trade Potential and Associated Non-Tariff Barriers, With Special Focus on Women-Owned/Led/Engaged Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises: The Case of India

The purpose of this project is to strengthen the participation of WMSMEs in the regional markets while leveraging their existing and potential roles in the creation and strengthening of regional value chains; by identifying non-tariff barriers and domestic operational constraints that they face. The Asia-Pacific Regional Centre of the United Nations Development Programme has initiated this project with financial assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Australia where CUTS is the implementing agency. The Project Implementation Period is from August 2014-March 2015.

External Preferential Trade Agreements and the Indian Economy: An Analysis of Impacts and Counter Measures

CUTS International, with Support from UK`s Department for International Development, under its Knowledge Partnership Programme, is implementing a project on Mega FTAs and the Indian Economy, under which the subject mentioned Brainstorming Meeting will be organised to present the methodology, initial results and expected outcomes. A number of relevant Indian stakeholders and a number of experts from and outside India are participating in this brainstorming to help achieve the expected outcomes of the study.

Financial Intermediaries and Trade Facilitation in South Asia (FITF)

The purpose of the project is to generate awareness about policy reforms that are needed to improve trade related financial services and to explore trade opportunities between India, Bangladesh and Pakistan that can be realized by addressing such issues, thereby generating welfare outcomes for these three programme countries.

Trade Consignment Mapping for Better Regional Connectivity in South Asia

The purpose of this project is to identify the bottlenecks present along important trade corridors between India – Pakistan, Nepal – India and Nepal – Bangladesh and to generate awareness about trade facilitation requirements and appropriate policy remedies among relevant stakeholders, including policy makers from the programme countries.

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

Keeping in mind the key findings of the study on Cost of Economic Non-Cooperation to Consumers in South Asia (COENCOSA) and the key messages, the goal of this project is to generate better political buy-in for enhanced and improved intra-regional trade in South Asia by conducting focused advocacy on customs-related and other procedural non-tariff barriers targeting some key stakeholder groups.

Assessment of a Potential CECA between India and BKRCU
(BKRCU-India CECA Study)

This project will undertake a feasibility study of the gains from a potential comprehensive economic cooperation agreement between India and the Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia Customs Union ( BKRCU) – India-BKRCU CECA. The BKRCU was operationalised on 1 January 2010. The study will undertake a comprehensive analysis of the gains to India from potential CECA, viz. liberalisation of trade in goods, services, investment and other economic cooperation between the partner countries

Cost of Economic Non-Cooperation to Consumers in South Asia (COENCOSA)

The COENCOSA project is founded on the premise that non-cooperation in trade between South Asian countries is resulting in avoidable higher prices of goods and services paid by consumers in the region. The project aims to analyse the reasons for economic non-cooperation between these countries, assess the costs thereof in terms of loss of consumer welfare and derive recommendations for minimising such welfare loss.

Trade SIA Study FTA EU-India

In April 2007 the European Commission launched negotiations with India for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). In order to assess the economic, social and environmental impacts of such an agreement, ECORYS Nederland BV was asked to carry out a Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment. This study will be implemented over the course of 2008 and completed at the latest by April 2009.

Trade Facilitation Needs Assessment in South Asia

The project, “Trade Facilitation Needs Assessment in South Asia”, is a field-based extensive research project based on Article 8 negotiations of South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). The issues covered under the project include: a) transportation; b) border measures c) port efficiency; and d) standards related procedure. The project aims at exploring and analysing the trade related issues other than the tariff related barriers that impact export and import from the Eastern Sub-Region of South Asia comprising of the select countries viz. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India (West Bengal) and Nepal. Given the attempts to increase trade volume from the region under the ages of World Trade Organisation (WTO), major policy issues would be explored and approaches would be suggested that would fit with the interests and priorities of these countries of South Asia.

South-South Economic Cooperation: Exploring Mekong-Ganga

The project South-South Economic Cooperation: Exploring Mekong-Ganga Relationship aims at exploring and analysing trade and investment relationship between India and three countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region, viz. Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam. Future state of affairs will be explored keeping in mind the historical ties and geographical proximity between these countries and recent attempts to forge closer trade and investment cooperation. This will be done by analysing the present volume and composition of trade and investment as well as the perceptions of diverse stakeholders, especially business and civil society.