Published:  02:48 AM, 09 September 2019

India to form new sub-regional economic bloc sans Pakistan

India to form new sub-regional economic bloc sans Pakistan

India has decided to forge a new economic bloc of fast growing South Asian countries excluding Pakistan for deeper cooperation to accelerate economic growth in the sub region.

"India is backing the revival of 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)," Times of India (TOI) reported on Sunday.

Policymakers have decided to forge ahead with the new bloc of fast growing South Asian countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar following the political hostilities between the two nuclear-armed neighbors and the frustration with the slow progress over the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the report said.

The finance ministers of the new sub-regional bloc (Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and India) will meet for the first time in New Delhi in next spring to thrash out the strategies for the way ahead, it said.

"India is also very keen about SASEC including Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and India," the newspaper quoted the President of Asian Development Bank (ADB) Takehiko Nakao as saying.

Nakao told the Indian newspaper that "there will be a meeting of finance ministers for the first time in next spring. Regional integration and cooperation is very important. Bangladesh is doing very well."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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