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India’s Role in South Asia Trade and Investment Integration


  • Kumar, Rajiv

    () (Indian Council for Research on International Economics Relations)

  • Singh, Manjeeta

    (Indian Council for Research on International Economics Relations)


Recent developments in South Asian countries, especially the re-emergence of democratic governments, new growth momentum despite the global economic downturn and greater openness, warrant a fresh look at the region’s prospects for economic integration. On the basis of a thorough review of the literature on potential and prospects of regional integration in South Asia and after examining the trends in intra-SAARC trade and investment flows, this paper finds that the progress in regional cooperation has been far short of potential. The paper, therefore, focuses on the ‘real impediments’ to regional integration and on that basis makes a set of policy oriented recommendations for furthering deeper regional integration in South Asia. It also emphasizes that given its dominant size, human resources, and aspirations for a global role, India will have to take on a disproportionately larger responsibility for promoting regional cooperation in South Asia. However, regional integration will not be achieved by India’s unilateral actions alone. Neighboring governments will have to respond positively to Indian initiatives for successful regional integration in South Asia.

Suggested Citation

  • Kumar, Rajiv & Singh, Manjeeta, 2009. "India’s Role in South Asia Trade and Investment Integration," Working Papers on Regional Economic Integration 32, Asian Development Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:adbrei:0032

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hassan, M. Kabir, 2001. "Is SAARC a viable economic block? evidence from gravity model," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 263-290.
    2. Samantak Das & Sanjib Pohit, 2006. "Quantifying Transport, Regulatory and Other Costs of Indian Overland Exports to Bangladesh," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(9), pages 1227-1242, September.
    3. Michael G. Plummer & Reid W. Click, 2009. "The ASEAN Economic Community and the European Experience," Chapters,in: Towards Monetary and Financial Integration in East Asia, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Rahman, Mohammad Mafizur, 2005. "Bangladesh-India Bilateral Trade: Causes of Imbalance and Measures for Improvement," Working Papers 1, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    5. Aradhna Aggarwal, 2008. "Regional Economic Integration and FDI in South Asia - Prospects and Problems," Macroeconomics Working Papers 22141, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    6. Wilson, John S. & Otsuki, Tsunehiro, 2007. "Regional integration in South Asia : what role for trade facilitation ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4423, The World Bank.
    7. Kabir, ASM, 2007. "Sanguinity and aspiration toward South Asian Regional integration: a case study of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) Agreement," MPRA Paper 3871, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Shiro Patrick Armstrong, 2015. "East and South Asia: Managing Difficult Bilateral Relations and Regional Integration Globally," Asian Economic Journal, East Asian Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 303-324, December.

    More about this item


    South Asia; economic integration; regional trade; foreign direct investment;

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration

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