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Connecting Asia

Infrastructure for Integrating South and Southeast Asia

Edited by Michael G. Plummer, Peter J. Morgan and Ganeshan Wignaraja

This book analyses how closer regional connectivity and economic integration between South Asia and Southeast Asia can benefit both regions, with a focus on the role played by infrastructure and public policies in facilitating this process. Country studies of national connectivity issues and policies cover Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, examining major developments in South Asia–Southeast Asia trade and investment, economic cooperation, the role of economic corridors, and regional cooperation initiatives. Thematic chapters explore investment in land and sea transport infrastructure, trade facilitation, infrastructure investment financing, supporting national and regional policies, and model-based estimates of the benefits of integration. Employing a state-of-the-art computable general equilibrium (CGE) model, the book provides a detailed an up-to-date discussion of issues, innovations and progress.
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Edited by Michael G. Plummer, Peter J. Morgan and Ganeshan Wignaraja

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Michael G. Plummer, Peter J. Morgan and Ganeshan Wignaraja

This chapter summarizes the overall purpose, background, major findings and policy recommendations in this book. The goal of this book is to identify the main constraints to South Asian–Southeast Asian economic integration, to provide specific policies that governments – together with the private sector and other development partners – should follow to overcome them, and to estimate the potential benefits and costs of those policies. It surveys the key issues, delineates existing bottlenecks and what can be done to resolve them, and considers the stakes involved, that is, the benefits and costs of deepening inter-regional links. It offers policy recommendations for governments, presents promising new approaches for regional institutions, identifies priority projects, and uses a computable general equilibrium model to estimate overall benefits and impacts of various scenarios of greater cross-regional integration. The chapter provides the historical background of integration between the two regions, and describes the current state of trade and investment integration. It then summarizes the findings of the chapters and, finally, synthesizes some of the main findings of the study and summarizes key policy recommendations.

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Ganeshan Wignaraja, Peter J. Morgan, Michael G. Plummer and Fan Zhai

This chapter estimates the potential gains from South Asian–Southeast Asian economic integration using an advanced computable general equilibrium (CGE) model. It estimates the potential gains to be large, particularly for South Asia, assuming that the policy- and infrastructure-related variables that increase trade costs are reduced via economic cooperation and investment in connectivity. As Myanmar is a key inter-regional bridge and has recently launched ambitious, outward-oriented policy reforms, the prospects for making progress in these areas are strong. If the two regions succeed in dropping inter-regional tariffs, reducing non-tariff barriers by 50 percent, and decreasing South Asian–Southeast Asian trade costs by 15 percent – which this chapter suggests is ambitious but attainable – welfare in South Asia and Southeast Asia would rise by 8.9 percent and 6.4 percent of gross domestic product, respectively, by 2030 relative to the baseline. These gains would be driven by rising exports and competitiveness, particularly for South Asia, whose exports would rise by two-thirds (64 percent relative to the baseline). Hence, the chapter concludes that improvements in connectivity would justify a high level of investment. Moreover, it supports a two-track approach to integration in South Asia, that is, deepening intra-regional cooperation together with building links to Southeast Asia.