ADBI series on Asian Economic Integration and Cooperation
Edited by Biswa Nath Bhattacharyay, Masahiro Kawai and Rajat M. Nag
Chapter 5: Socio-economic impacts of regional transport infrastructure in South Asia
The overall economic performance of economies in South Asia in recent years has been impressive. India has led the way with an 8–9 percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) since 2003, followed by Bhutan with 7–8 percent, and Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka each with 6–7 percent. Only Nepal has experienced relatively slow growth. However, there is concern that an aging and increasingly inadequate infrastructure may limit the potential for further growth and economic development. A critical infrastructure component is the transportation network. Although South Asia inherited an integrated transport infrastructure from the British, this infrastructure was fractured by the partition of India and its political aftermath, and now needs to be rebuilt within the context of greater political harmony in South Asia (ADB 2007: 1). Transport infrastructure in many areas has fallen into disuse, raising the cost of travel and trade. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is financing several transportation infrastructure projects (in addition to projects on energy, tourism, and the environment) in the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) region, connecting Nepal, eastern India, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
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