South Asia requires resilient and cost-effective regional supply chains. This can be achieved through Indian investment, fostering local linkages while reducing dependency on Chinese financing of regional partners. A new approach enhances India's regional influence, creating a win-win scenario for the entire South Asian neighbourhood in a changing global landscape.
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The more India enjoys cooperative relations with its neighbours, the greater its ability to exert influence in the world. Meanwhile, neighbours looking at India with a reasonable mindset may internalise that cooperating with the world’s fifth largest economy is clearly in their interest.
Despite its natural advantages, the Bay of Bengal region lags economically, in part due to insufficient connectivity between the member nations. Improving financial connectivity between them is the first step to easing movement of goods, services and people. Greater financial collaboration also can help the region mitigate the impact of ongoing geopolitical upheavals that have caused food and energy prices to rise.
India’s South Asian neighbours have all seen sharp currency devaluations since early 2022. These are a result of maintaining artificially strong exchange rates, made possible by remittances from migrant workers. However, by postponing the inevitable devaluations, these states have made their economic crises much worse.
Dhaka recently hosted the Indian Ocean Conference 2023, a multi-country event featuring speakers and participants from the Indian Ocean countries. In recent years, Bangladesh has gone from a ‘basket-case’ to a case study in progress, and across Dhaka are signs of a city undergoing dramatic change.
India’s Northeast is developing and getting close to its goal of being part of the Indian mainstream in connectivity and business – which is also critical for the success of India’s Act East Policy. For both goals, Bangladesh and Japan are invaluable partners and friends. The troika’s collaboration can be a model in the region.
The International Monetary Fund’s recent warning of a slowing global trade comes as a sign for South Asia to reassess its regional trade within the continent. India, in its year of G20 Presidency and as South Asia’s largest economy, can use its platform to lead the way via dialogue, capacity building, and regulatory policies to encourage open regionalism in Asia.
Delhi and Dhaka are fully conscious that they must get this vital equation right, constantly strengthening and deepening their cooperation and countering the challenges they face. In this, the contributions of the Sheikh Hasina government in nurturing the special ‘bonding’ is enormous and widely appreciated.
Sanctions against Russian energy, high cost fuel, heat waves and droughts all at once have raised the price of daily energy use to unprecedented levels and plunged large parts of the world into darkness.
Since 1947, India has had a proud record of development cooperation. It began even though it was newly independent and itself developing, but created a camaraderie with movements in other emerging countries. Now after 75 years, its time to move toward an FDI-led model, which will particularly help reduce the rising indebtedness in the developing world.