South Asian Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program of Asian Development Bank (ADB) has expanded with the inclusion of Myanmar aas the 7th member in 2017.
Shaktikanta Das, India’s finance secretary said on the occasion that 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. Myanmar’s membership in SASEC can offer a host of opportunities for realizing synergies from economic cooperation in the sub-region, he noted.
SASEC member countries are focusing on connectivity initiatives including Myanmar as 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 and even Bangladesh can explore the potential of 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.
Myanmar was accorded an observer status of SASEC in 2013 when ADB’s annual meeting was held in Noida, India. Myanmar has been participating in annual SASEC Nodal Officials’ meetings as an observer since 2014. It was invited by the participating countries of SASEC countries to become a full member in 2015.
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 as part of the South Asia Growth Quadrangle (SAGQ), formed in 1996.
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.