South Asia’s BBIN connectivity project will be key to counter China’s BRI influence: Report


A recent study by the Netherlands based European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) said that apart from decreasing the collective economic bargaining power of the region, the lack of regionalization has led to geopolitical implications “as it allows for the enhanced entry of extra-regional actors and extra-regional initiatives, most notably in the context of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).”

The study added that the Chinese infrastructure investment through the BRI and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) responds to this lack of integration and the associated lack in regional connectivity.

“The BBIN project is a game changer but what is required now is a time-bound implementation of the same,” an insider told India Narrative.

The infrastructure initiative will be critical for India at a time when China is expanding its military and economic might through the multi-billion infrastructure BRI.

According to the World Bank, which started a One South Asia campaign just a few months ago, the impact of the “long term scars” emanating from the pandemic could be felt even after economic recovery.

Recently, in a meeting, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen even raised the issue with the outgoing Nepalese Ambassador to Dhaka Banshidhar Mishra.

“South Asia, as a region, needs to be looked at holistically if the true growth potential is to be achieved,” Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director, CUTS International told India Narrative.

The World Bank also said that intraregional trade now stands at just one-third of its potential with an estimated gap of $23 billion annually. It also said that an electricity market of the BBIN countries would save an estimated $17 billion in capital costs. And improvements in transport and logistics can reduce the 50 per cent higher cost for container shipments in South Asia compared to OECD nations.

“We need to move fast on the BBIN initiative to build better connectivity especially in the post Covid world, which will be a different era with a shift in geopolitics,” Nazneen Ahmed Senior Research Fellow, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) said earlier.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

–indianarrative



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