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Keep things chugging along

  • Published at 07:37 am May 21st, 2013
Keep things chugging along

The fact that local administrators and regional leaders are discussing the idea of improving rail links in the Saarc region is a good sign for Bangladesh, and for the region as a whole.

Despite close proximity, South Asia remains one of the least economically integrated areas in the world.

This is something that we, as a nation, should seek to change.

While we are not proposing an overnight, European Union-style full integration, we would contend that increasing market access both ways, and improving transportation links, would be mutually beneficial to Saarc as a whole.

As things stand, intraregional trade is abysmal. The garment sector that we boast of so often deals almost exclusively with the US and Europe. While there is nothing wrong with that, it seems silly for us to ignore a huge market like India, which is just next door and, despite a recent slowdown in its growth rate, remains a very strong economy.

The introduction of a rail link that properly connects India, Nepal and Bhutan would act as a springboard for increased trade activities that could be mutually beneficial. As the transport of goods becomes easier, the whole production process becomes more efficient and allows regional industries to gain cost competitiveness in comparison to producers in other regions.

Additionally, as our own natural resources are further depleted and we hear talk of importing coal from India to produce power for the nation, regional rail links become ever more important in helping us maintain energy security.

Our leaders, and the leaders of surrounding nations, should prioritise the improvement of transport links, and the improved trade relations that such a link would offer. 

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