The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Spotlight on India, Bangla at ADB meet

Calcutta, Dec. 22: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will showcase opportunities in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and eastern India before 3,000 investors at its annual meet to be held in Istanbul in May. The bank has undertaken a developmental project for the entire region, called the South Asian Sub-Economic Regional Co-operation.

The project has five components including trade and investments, energy, transport, tourism and environment. Helping the ADB in the area of trade and investments are the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Industry and the Indian Chamber of Commerce.

ICC secretary-general Nazeeb Arif said the project was conceptualised in November 2000 to develop this part of the globe, around the same time that the South Asian Business Forum was formed to help ADB with necessary inputs. “We expect the ADB meet will help eastern India draw international attention, that will translate into investments.”

Describing the competitive advantages of the area under the South Asian Sub-Economic Regional Co-operation project, he said the region has a large potential common market with a population of 458 million and a combined gross national product of $ 150 billion. “All these will be featured at the ADB meet in May.”

The region has a huge skilled low-wage workforce and abundant energy resources like oil, natural gas, coal and hydel power. The undeveloped hydropower potential stands at 60,000 MW, with Bangladesh, Tripura and Assam possessing gas reserves of 30 trillion cubic feet. Other advantages include common borders for integrated cross-border infrastructure such as a transport corridor, water resources and vast arable land. Studies indicate a potential of increasing intra-regional trade by over nine times from the current level. There is also huge potential for the chemicals and plastic industry.

Arif said co-operation in transport would lower cost and make investments in rail/road viable, besides enlarging markets for low value exportables. “This region can become an extremely competitive base for manufacturing components. Moreover, there is a vast potential for tourism,” he added.

“Bengal will immensely benefit through the formation of SASEC. It will be like a corridor in this region,” he said. Some of the transport projects will connect Calcutta with the Bangladesh corridor for which investments will be sought at the ADB meet.

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