Closer regional ties could increase trade and reduce energy shortages: World Bank

April 03, 2007 (LBO) – South Asia’s high economic growth has created a new momentum for closer regional integration, which can increase trade and bring greater prosperity to its peoples, the World Bank said ahead of a regional summit that starts today. Praful Patel, World Bank Vice-President for the South Asia region, said there are clear signs that policymakers and the private sector in the region are pushing for closer integration.

Patel says regional co-operation could be an effective tool in increasing trade, relieving energy shortages, improving connectivity, increasing investment, and promoting peace and stability.

The SAARC Summit is being held in New Delhi on April 3-4.

Least Integrated

World Bank says according its study South Asia: Growth and Regional Integration, the region is the least integrated area in the world.

Intraregional trade is less than 2 percent of GDP, compared to more than 20
percent for East Asia.

Annual trade between India and Pakistan, the bulk of which is routed through Dubai, is currently estimated at one billion US dollars, but could be as great as high as 9 billion dollars.

In addition, cross-border investments, and the flow of ideas, crudely measured by the cross