Myanmar became the 7th member of South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program of Asian Development Bank (ADB). It was officially made member at the SASEC Finance Ministers’ meeting held in New Delhi and chaired by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Myanmar’s membership in SASEC will offer host of opportunities for realizing synergies from economic cooperation in the subregion. Road corridors in Myanmar can provide key gateway between South Asia and Southeast Asia, while its ports can provide alternate routes and gateways to the landlocked northeastern region of India. It has the potential to unleash significant economic potential and bring better livelihoods to millions in the region after developing multimodal connectivity between India’s northeastern region, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.
Transport linkages between South and Southeast Asia will also become more attractive to businesses once ongoing and planned motor vehicle agreements are finalized and implemented. Background Prior to becoming member, Myanmar was having observer status of SASEC since 2013. Since 2014, it was participating in annual SASEC Nodal Officials’ meetings as an observer. It was invited by the participating countries of SASEC countries to become a full member in 2015.
SASEC program is a project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries and strengthening regional economic cooperation. It was established 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.
ADB is the secretariat and lead financier of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation program. So far, it has supported 46 projects worth $9.17 billion in transport, trade facilitation, energy and information and communications technology (ICT). Its seven members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka.