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September 9, 2019

Excluding Pakistan, India backs new sub-regional economic bloc

Top Story

September 9, 2019

NEW DELHI: India is backing the revival of a new regional economic bloc, excluding Pakistan as New Delhi presses ahead to deepen ties and push regional integration under the South Asia sub-regional Economic Cooperation (Sasec), international media reported on Sunday.

Given the political hostilities between the two nuclear-armed neighbours and the frustration with the slow progress over the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), policymakers have decided to forge ahead with the new bloc of fast growing south Asian countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar.

"India is also very keen about Sasec including Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and India. There will be a meeting of finance ministers for the first time next spring in New Delhi. Regional integration and cooperation is very important. Bangladesh is doing very well," Takehiko Nakao, president of Asian Development Bank told media.

Nakao said finance ministers from the new sub-regional economic bloc will meet in New Delhi next spring to thrash out the strategy for the way ahead. The foundation of Sasec was laid way back in 2001 when Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal agreed for deeper cooperation to accelerate economic growth in the sub region. Maldives and Sri Lanka joined the group in 2014 and in 2017, Myanmar was included. In 2017, ministers from the Sasec group had met to discuss the way forward but since then progress has been limited but now with India's insistence, the group is expected to chalk out a clear roadmap of sub regional integration.

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