South Asian governments urged to ease visa restrictions

Mar 03, 2010 (LBO) – Reducing visa restrictions and non-tariff barriers, and improving customs procedures are among a host of steps South Asian countries can take to boost private sector-led growth, the Asian Development Bank said. The report also highlights the need for South Asia to remove barriers to intra-regional investment, and to promote cross border investments in areas such as hydropower, and other energy sector projects, which could support regional trade in energy and aid integration.

It suggests allowing foreign direct investment in excluded, or sensitive, sectors in specific cities, urges countries to conclude bilateral investment treaties and double tax avoidance treaties, and calls for a study into the establishment of an umbrella investment body for the region. Cutting nonphysical barriers to trade and improving the climate for investment across borders will encourage greater private sector activity, according to a report by ADB and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

These measures will help lift growth, cut poverty and strengthen regional integration, the report on harnessing business opportunities in South Asia.

Among the steps it suggests are liberalizing a South Asia visa exempt