IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Connecting South Asia and Southeast Asia: A Bangladesh Country Study


  • Rahman, Mustafizur

    (Asian Development Bank Institute)

  • Moazzem, Khondaker Golam

    (Asian Development Bank Institute)

  • Chowdhury, Mehruna Islam

    (Asian Development Bank Institute)

  • Sehrin, Farzana

    (Asian Development Bank Institute)


Economic integration is being inhibited by the poor state of transport connectivity between Bangladesh, and South Asia and Southeast Asia. This study reviews connectivity initiatives of Bangladesh and the two neighboring regions and proposes ways to deepen regional and interregional connectivity. Since the early 1990s, as a consequence of trade-led growth strategy, South Asia and Southeast Asia have emerged as important economic partners of Bangladesh both in terms of export destination and import sourcing. However, constraints "at the border" and "behind the border" have tended to undermine the prospects of reaping the benefits accruing from closer economic cooperation. There is now an increasing realization among policymakers in Bangladesh of the importance of transport integration as an effective tool for market integration and also for attracting efficiency-enhancing and market-seeking investment. This changed perspective has been reflected in Bangladesh's long-term development policies. This study identifies cross-border initiatives with Bangladesh's involvement particularly at the bilateral, subregional, and regional levels. Some of these initiatives are also integrated with Asia-wide broader connectivity particularly through the Asian Highway and Trans Asian Railway initiatives. Ongoing initiatives include construction and upgrading of multi-lane highways and railways, road and rail bridges, procurement of locomotives and wagons, and construction of internal container river ports. However, progress has been slow and cross-border transit still remains an unaddressed issue. A consensus among the concerned countries is needed with regard to standard operating procedures, harmonization of standards and customs procedures, and service charges and user fees for transit facilities. Additionally, significant investment will be required for trade facilitation and to upgrade border trade facilities at land ports, inland waterways, and sea ports. The study identifies five key areas where concrete action from major stakeholders is required: (i) mobilizing the necessary funds for building physical infrastructure; (ii) identifying and sequencing of priorities; (iii) cross-border coordination; (iv) building human resources to manage cross-border mega projects; and (v) building supply-side capacities to benefit from connectivity-driven regional market opportunities.

Suggested Citation

  • Rahman, Mustafizur & Moazzem, Khondaker Golam & Chowdhury, Mehruna Islam & Sehrin, Farzana, 2014. "Connecting South Asia and Southeast Asia: A Bangladesh Country Study," ADBI Working Papers 500, Asian Development Bank Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:adbiwp:0500

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mustafizur Rahman & Towfiqul Islam Khan & Ashiqun Nabi & Tapas Kumar Paul, 2010. "Bangladesh's Export Opportunities in the Indian Market: Addressing Barriers and Strategies for Future," CPD Working Paper 90, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
    2. Ramesh Chandra & Rajiv Kumar, 2010. "South Asian Integration: Prospects and Lessons from East Asia," Chapters, in: Masahiro Kawai & Jong-Wha Lee & Peter A. Petri & Giovanni Capanelli (ed.), Asian Regionalism in the World Economy, chapter 12, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Pradyut Guha & Rangalal Mohapatra, 2016. "Intensity and Pattern of Border Trade in India’s Northeast," Foreign Trade Review, , vol. 51(3), pages 248-265, August.
    2. Anindya BHATTACHARYA & Tania BHATTACHARYA, 2014. "ASEAN-India Gas Cooperation: Redifining India's "Look East" Policy with Myanmar," Working Papers DP-2014-19, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
    3. Mustafizur Rahman & Hosna Jahan, 2015. "Second-generation Cooperation Agenda," South Asia Economic Journal, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka, vol. 16(1), pages 1-26, March.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Rajiv Kumar, 2011. "SAARC: Changing Realities, Opportunities and Challenges," Chapters, in: Ulrich Volz (ed.), Regional Integration, Economic Development and Global Governance, chapter 1, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Lubna NAZ* & Naeem-uz-ZAFAR** & Mohsin Hasnain AHMAD***, 2019. "THE IMPACT OF PREFERENTIAL TRADE AGREEMENTS ON SOUTH ASIAN EXPORT FLOWS: Using Matching Econometrics," Pakistan Journal of Applied Economics, Applied Economics Research Centre, vol. 29(2), pages 243-264.
    3. Sandy Lowitt, 2019. "Black cat, white cat: Lessons to be learned from ASEAN," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-26, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Mustafizur Rahman & Mazbahul Golam Ahamad & A K M Nazrul Islam & Muhammad Al Amin, 2012. "Agricultural Trade between Bangladesh and India: An Analysis of Trends, Trading Patterns and Determinants," CPD-CMI Working Paper 3, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
    5. Tahmina Akter & Md. Al Amin, 2019. "Foreign Policy of Bangladesh: Bilateral Trade between Bangladesh & India," International Journal of Science and Business, IJSAB International, vol. 3(6), pages 65-70.
    6. Fahmida Khatun & Debapriya Bhattacharya & Mustafizur Rahman, 2013. "Revisiting the PRSP Experience in Bangladesh: Perspectives on Representation, Accountability and Inclusiveness," CPD Working Paper 105, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
    7. Harinder Kohli & Ashok Sharma & Anil Sood (ed.), 2011. "Asia 2050: Realizing the Asian Century," Books, Emerging Markets Forum, edition 1, number asia2050, June.
    8. Neena MALHOTRA & Deepika KUMARI, 2016. "Revisiting Export-Led Growth Hypothesis: An Empirical Study On South Asia," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 16(2), pages 157-168.

    More about this item


    trade facilitation; cross-border movement of goods; vehicles; investments and services; regional connectivity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ris:adbiwp:0500. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ADB Institute (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.