South Asia Uncovered

CUTS CITEE has decided that the time has come to revamp its flagship publication – the Economiquity newsletter. Previously, for almost a decade, this quarterly newsletter presented a compilation of news from around the world relating to trade, economics and the environment, since there was a vacuum of such material. Now taking into consideration that there is an abundance of sources displaying such information on a continuous basis, Economiquity has been reformed. This new bi-monthly e-newsletter presents publications from across South Asia, which are researched and written by renowned experts, civil society organisations, research institutes, and academics. What was once not easy to find is now before your eyes!

Please click on the following links to find out the key issues concerning South Asia in terms of trade, economics and the environment:

WTO Issues

  • Protection or more open trade for Bangladesh?
  • Realising Aid for Trade in the Doha Round
  • Globalisation after 9/11: The ‘Free Trade’ Explosion

Regional Economic Cooperation

  • Asian Economic Integration: ASEAN+3+1 or ASEAN+1s?
  • Accords or Discords
  • SAFTA: An Instrument for Peace and Prosperity
  • Global Europe meets India Inc.

Developmental Issues

  • Some Features of Migration and Labour Mobility in the Leather Accessories Manufacture in India
  • Pertinent issues on SME finance in Bangladesh
  • Measuring Environmental Efficiency of Industry: A Case Study of Thermal Power Generation in India
  • Bureaucracy and Pro-Poor Change
  • Water Resources in the Northeast: Development Options in a Cooperative Framework

CUTS CITEE in Action

Organisational Assessment of CUTS CITEE

Call for Publications

WTO Issues

Protection or more open trade for Bangladesh?
Author: Dr. Zaidi Satar, Senior Economist of the World Bank

The Financial Times, Bangladesh

SINCE 1991, Bangladesh has, for the most part, been on the track of trade liberalisation. Has it been good for Bangladesh? Some would say the jury is still out, but there are clearly more positive than negative signs. At the very least, the grim predictions of those who opposed this path have not been fulfilled. The much touted de-industrialisation has not taken place, there are no balance of payments problems; no foreign exchange crises, and no massive surge in unemployment. On the contrary, since 1991, the economy has recorded the highest per capita growth rates in decades and with these has come a significant reduction in poverty. Bangladesh should continue on the liberalisation track, lest it be left behind while neighbours India and China race ahead.

Realising Aid for Trade in the Doha Round

Author: Dr. Posh Raj Pandey
South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), Nepal

This briefing paper explores some pertinent issues required for a successful Aid for Trade package. Such aid flows should be stable, predictable and demand-driven. The aid must encompass technical assistance, institutional reform, supply-side capacity building and infrastructure while covering adjustment costs arising out of multilateral liberalisation. Preferably, new units at existing multilateral organisations should operate the aid assistance. In a broader context, Aid for Trade should form part of the ‘single undertaking’ of the current Doha Round trade negotiations and an essential component of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA). Developing countries are ultimately responsible for trade-related capacity building and successful global integration with Aid for Trade playing the role of a catalyst, albeit a significant one.

Globalisation after 9/11: The ‘Free Trade’ Explosion

Author: Devinder Sharma
India Together

With the World Trade talks in limbo, the focus remains on aggressively pushing on the bilateral front. What could not be achieved through a multilateral trade regime, is now being pursued by the US through bilateral and regional deals.

Regional Economic Cooperation

Asian Economic Integration: ASEAN+3+1 or ASEAN+1s?
Author: Dr. Amita Batra
Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), India

In this paper an attempt is made to evaluate the most efficient approach to regional economic integration in Asia. Given that ASEAN is an existing regional bloc in Asia, alternative approaches to the alignment of China, Japan, Korea and India with ASEAN for the formation of the ASEAN+4 trade bloc have been evaluated to determine if there are efficiency costs by way of distortion in the patterns of trade away from those expected on the basis of comparative advantage. The findings of our analysis underscore the efficiency of a prior alignment with ASEAN for all the plus four economies.

Accords or Discords

Author: Sajid Kazmi, Research Associate of Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan
The News on Sunday, Pakistan

Countries are falling over each other’s heels to sign bilateral trade agreements, which are one of the variants of FTAs, with their neighbours as well their major trade partners. All said, free market economists are inclined as a matter of principle to advise against bilateral or regional free trade agreements. There is an apprehension that interest in negotiating regional and bilateral free trade agreements and customs unions threatens the authority and effectiveness of the multilateral trading system.

SAFTA: An Instrument for Peace and Prosperity

Author: N C Pahariya
CUTS International, India

The South Asian Aossociation of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Members have made efforts for a serious exchange of trade preferences. The signing of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) at the 12th SAARC Summit held in Islamabad on January 6, 2004 paved the way for its implementation by January 1, 2006. In addition, there have been several bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) within the region (similar to those by the ASEAN member-countries), India has FTAs with Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Similarly, FTAs are being negotiated between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and between Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Global Europe meets India Inc.

Author: Peter Mandelson, European Union Trade Commissioner
Financial Express, India

For more than a year now, interest in a bilateral trade and investment agreement has been growing, both in India and in Europe. A recent report of the EU-India high-level trade group has made a compelling economic case for the value of a new bilateral pact.

Developmental Issues: Trade, Environment, Pro-Poor Growth

Some Features of Migration and Labour Mobility in the Leather Accessories Manufacture in India
Author: Jesim Pais
Institute for Studies in Industrial Development, India

This paper is a study of workers in the leather accessories manufacture in Dharavi, Mumbai, India. There has been a shift in the economic policy in India since the mid 1980s, though the intensity and spread of economic reforms across different sectors of the economy increased since 1990-91. As part of the economic reforms, certain sectors such as the leather industry were selected for promoting growth of output and exports. The focus of the study is on certain features of employment such as migration and labour mobility. The core data for the paper are from field surveys conducted in the industry in Dharavi in 2000-01, roughly 10 years after the economic reforms of the 1990s were initiated.

Pertinent issues on SME finance in Bangladesh

Author: Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, Governor of Bangladesh Bank
The Financial Express, Bangladesh

As the microcredit movement matures, we get a clearer idea of what its strengths are and what are its limitations. To move forward, we need to be more effective, and increase outreach, design products to include the poorest, and also provide finance for growth and employment oriented small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are needed to spread the poverty alleviation net wider, so that significant decline in poverty takes place.

Measuring Environmental Efficiency of Industry: A Case Study of Thermal Power Generation in India

Authors: Prof. M N Murty, Surender Kumar and Kishore K. Dhavala
Institute of Economic Growth, India

This paper measures the environmental efficiency of coal-fired thermal power industries in India. This efficiency is estimated using a methodology termed ‘directional output distance function’. There are various findings in this study. In particular, there is the estimation that the thermal power generating industry in Andhra Pradesh state of India could increase production of electricity by 10 per cent while decreasing generation of pollution by 10 percent; indicating that there are incentives or win-win opportunities for the firms to voluntarily comply with the environmental regulation. Furthermore, the variation in marginal cost of pollution abatement and compliance to regulation across firms could be reduced by having economic instruments like emission tax.

Bureaucracy and Pro-Poor Change

Authors: Ali Cheema & Asad Sayeed
Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Pakistan

Based on the premise that a functioning state is a necessary pre-requisite for pro-poor change, it is critical to investigate the role of the bureaucracy as a key catalyst in this process. Bureaucracies are ascribed to be anchors of the modern nation state as their conduct is based on rational-legal norms. Bureaucracies, according to this ideal type, temper the populist urges of politicians who wish to execute policy unencumbered by rules and procedures.State success or failure in many cases, therefore, can be gauged by the degree to which this tension—between the rules based bureaucratic form of administration and populist politics—is resolved. Prognosis on pro-poor change in the light of the present and anticipated balance between bureaucratic procedures and political compulsions is thus an important area of inquiry. This paper draws implications for pro-poor change of the structure and conduct of the bureaucratic structure in Pakistan.

Water Resources in the Northeast: Development Options in a Cooperative Framework

Author: Prof. B G Verghese
Centre for Policy Research, India

India’s Northeast has all the attributes of a national powerhouse and reservoir that could transform the region, ameliorate poverty, and generate national wealth. The gifts of water and biodiversity offer tremendous potential that requires vision, will, and careful planning if they are to be converted into bountiful, renewable resources for sustainable development. However, unregulated waters currently vent their fury in destructive annual floods, while much biodiversity is being stolen or lost.

CUTS CITEE in Action

This issue covers:
* CUTS @ WTO Public Forum 2006
* Events
* Publications & Advocacy
* Participation

Organisational Assessment of CUTS CITEE
The purpose of the independent study, carried out by SPM Consultants, was to assess the CUTS CITEE’s capacity and performance related to its role as implementing Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) financed development projects within the area of international trade.

Call for Publications

For experts publishing articles in South Asian newspapers/publications, civil society organisations, research institutes and academics, if you would like your publication’s abstract and weblink to distributed to CUTS International network (above 5,000 recipients all over the world) and added to the Economiquity e-newsletter, please forward such details via email to following address:

This e-newsletter is compiled by the CUTS CITEE team , CUTS International.
Disclaimer: This e-newsletter contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorised by the copyright owners. Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) is making the abstracts of these articles available in our efforts to advance understanding of trade, economic and development issues. We believe that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of the copyrighted material as provided for in Article 10 of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Paris Text 1971) and in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If anybody wishes to use materials from this e-newsletter for purposes that go beyond ‘fair use’, s/he must obtain permission from the copyright owner. CUTS will not draw any profit from this e-newsletter, since it is solely for informative and educational purposes.

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