World Bank to Provide $1.03B for Improving South Asia Regional Trade

The World Bank has approved $1.03 billion of financing help to improve regional trade between Bangladesh and Nepal. Provided money will be spent to reduce trade and transport costs and transit time along regional corridors. This fund is part of the Accelerating Transport and Trade Connectivity in Eastern South Asia (ACCESS) Programme Phase 1. 

Phase 1 of the program will help replace current pen-paper-based trade processes with digitized automated solutions in Bangladesh and Nepal. Automated solutions are projected to enable faster border crossing times and better tracking of exit and entry, efficient electronic queuing and intelligent parking.

The program is also expected to help improve selected road corridors and upgrade vital land ports and custom infrastructure. This is expected to help integrate landlocked Nepal and Bhutan with gateway countries such as Bangladesh.

Currently, regional trade only accounts for 5% of South Asia’s total trade while it is 50% in East Asia. This demonstrates untapped potential in the regional trade in South Asia.

Bangladesh will receive $753 million from this project and it is slated to upgrade the 43 km two-lane Sylhet-Charkia-Sheola road, connecting Sheola Land Port with Dhaka-Sylhet Highway. This is projected to cut down travel time by 30%. This project will also support the modernisation of the Chittagong customs house.

“A key focus for ACCESS program is to support solutions that can effectively reduce dwell times at trade gateways. This will include greater border cooperation and coordination within and between countries, reducing physical inspection of goods and simplifying regulation and processes,” said Erik Nora, World Bank task team leader of the program.


Photo Courtesy: Canva

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