- The South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program brings together Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka in a project-based partnership that aims to promote regional prosperity, improve economic opportunities, and build a better quality of life for the people of the subregion.
- The SASEC program was formed 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.
- These four countries comprise the South Asia Growth Quadrangle (SAGQ), formed in 1996, as a vehicle for accelerating sustainable economic development through regional cooperation.
- Maldives and Sri Lanka joined SASEC in 2014, further expanding opportunities for enhancing economic linkages in the sub-region.
- SASEC countries share a common vision of boosting intraregional trade and cooperation in South Asia, while also developing connectivity and trade with Southeast Asia through Myanmar, to the People’s Republic of China, and the global market.
- In 2016, the SASEC countries approved the SASEC Operational Plan 2016-2025, a 10-year strategic roadmap, which introduced Economic Corridor Development as a fourth sectoral area of focus, to promote synergies and linkages between economic corridors across SASEC countries.
- South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program of Asian Development Bank (ADB) is expanding towards the East with Myanmar formally becoming the 7th member of SASEC in 2017.
MEKONG GANGA COOPERATION
The 10th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting (10th MGC MM) was held on 01 August 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Highlights of the meeting
- The Ministers agreed to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of MGC in 2020.
- The Ministers welcomed India’s assistance to Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam under the MGC Quick Impact Projects (QIP) Scheme and noted that since its inception in 2014, 24 projects have been completed so far.
- The Ministers welcomed India’s joining the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) as a Development Partner.
About Mekong- Ganga Cooperation
- The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) is an initiative by six countries – India and five ASEAN countries, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam for cooperation in tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications.
- It was launched in 2000 at Vientiane, Lao PDR.
- Both the Ganga and the Mekong are civilizational rivers, and the MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins.
- The MGC is also indicative of the cultural and commercial linkages among the member countries of the MGC down the centuries.
Why is Mekong Ganga Cooperation significant for India?
- Development of North East Region if trade and industry flourish in the entire region overland trade via Myanmar to many MGC countries.
- Brahmaputra Valley is a key aspect in making the Mekong- Ganga Cooperation Project effective and harvesting favorable social and economic gains.
- Make in India- Wide experience of Mekong countries in manufacturing can be utilised by India in its make in India endeavour.
- Balancing China’s assertiveness in the region. China’s dominance can be seen in controlling the waters of the Mekong river upstream.
- The Mekong region is very important for India's 'Act East Policy' for strengthening its economic integration with Southeast and East-Asian countries.
India has accorded high priority to economic engagement with the MGC countries, working towards establishing seamless physical and digital connectivity, as well as capacity building under the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and Narrowing the Development Gap.