Developments in Agriculture Trade in the BIMSTEC Region

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October 19, 2022 - Author: S. K. Mohanty and Pankhuri Gaur

Executive Summary

BIMSTEC has been one of the topmost economic growth hotspots of the world, reigning almost over the past three decades. The region has displayed growth resilience and has circumvented the pressure of the prolonged global recession which has concluded its 15th year in a row. The growth profile of the region was almost uninterrupted irrespective of the shift in the global trade regimes. Most of the regional countries embraced trade as the driver of growth after repeated failures in the import substitution strategy, which was pursued for a long period. The export-led growth strategy paid a rich dividend to the regional economies, though remained gradually ineffective during the spell of the global recession. As a latecomer to the regional process, BIMSTEC regional economies successfully adopted export strategies independently, as their national development plans progressed well over the years. India is also advancing to become the third-largest economy in the world, presumably by 2030. Graduation or in the process of graduating from LDCs to developing countries, the economic accomplishment achieved by regional economies such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, is a testimony of the region’s fast economic progress. The rise of regional economies has been the outcome of their prudent macroeconomic domestic policies. In the process of shaping the domestic economic policies for higher growth, the region failed to trigger its efforts to leverage the integration process in the BIMSTEC region. Consolidation of the integration process was lagging within the region, which could have added strength to the endeavours of the regional economies to maintain high growth, unlike many Regional Integration Arrangements (RIAs) in the immediate neighbourhood. Although regional integration did not yield much in the past, the performance of the region in terms of a rising share of real GDP and trade in the world economy grew consistently during the last three decades. The pressing issue is how to raise Intra Regional Trade (IRT) through the regional integration process to contribute to the region’s efforts to maintain further high growth.

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