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08 to 09 December 2022 | By invitation only

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Trade between BIMSTEC members has been growing, with India leading the way in establishing bilateral trade agreements and trade-enhancing measures. The bay area’s geography is a key factor, including the Bangladesh-India 4,096-km border and efforts the two countries have made to introduce various trade-enhancing measures that have increased trade volume. India and Sri Lanka, for their part, signed a Free Trade Agreement in 1998. India and Thailand implemented the Early Harvest Scheme (EHS) of an FTA. India and Nepal share an open border. There are no visa requirements between Bhutan and India, and India’s northeastern states have an unfenced border with Myanmar. For India, BIMSTEC is already a subregion with few trade or investment barriers.  However, trade in the region has not reached its optimum level. A regional FTA may be the next key step in enhancing overall economic performance in South Asia

The roundtable is expected to cover the following themes:   

Reducing Trade and Regulatory Barriers for Connectivity:  Achieving decisive progress on a Free Trade Area (FTA) among BIMSTEC member countries is a cornerstone of the BIMSTEC Charter. First, the FTA will remove impediments to infrastructure connectivity, as cross-border transactions are still subject to various fees, taxes, and regulations. Second, an FTA focused on deep integration (connectivity) elements will help businesses access regional and global supply chains and achieve vast untapped potential. The roundtable will provide a platform to present and discuss various modalities on how progress can be made toward (1) a negotiating mandate (goods and services), (2) recognition of each country’s likely offers and defensive interests, and (3) a timeline for the liberalization process.

Non-Tariff Barriers (NTB): A major impediment to connectivity in BIMSTEC are the administrative and regulatory barriers to trade among member countries. Access to each other’s markets in BIMSTEC has been eroded through sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues: Are product quality or performance requirements, testing requirements, labelling requirements, packaging requirements, conformity assessment, and certification requirements more burdensome than necessary?  In addition. port restrictions specifying where goods can enter, cumbersome document requirements stifle cross-border trade.. The session will also address what are the best practices of formulation for trade promoting BIMSTEC rules of origin regime and dispute settlement mechanism under a proposed FTA.

Cross-Border Connectivity – Customs Cooperation and Border Management: Integrated and coordinated border management that actively encourages customs administrations to further improve their collaboration with partner agencies responsible for border operations is key to improving transactions. Integrated (IBM) and Coordinated Border Management (CBM) programs have been actively promoted globally in recent years, which has enabled some countries to effectively cope with the complex nature of international and regional trade. Customs cooperation is an integral part of the BIMSTEC connectivity objective. At a Ministerial Meeting in 2018, progress was achieved on BIMSTEC customs cooperation, finalizing draft text of the Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters for the BIMSTEC FTA. The BIMSTEC Trade Negotiating Committee and member states considered the draft text, but a final draft is yet to be accepted by all members. The roundtable will discuss the modalities for completion of the cooperation agreement.

Digital Connectivity (Paperless Trade): Reducing trade costs by addressing cumbersome regulatory procedures and documentation requirements is an essential reform that enables developing economies to more effectively participate in international production networks and use trade as an engine of growth and sustainable development. This can be accomplished by tackling introducing paperless trade and digitization. The roundtable will include discussion on how to accelerate implementation of cross-border paperless trade in the BIMSTEC Region, following the example of ASEAN and building upon the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific.

Mr. Manu Sithiprasasana
Manu Sithiprasasana
Executive Director, International Institute for Trade and Development (ITD)
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Mr. Manu Sithiprasasana, Executive Director of International Institute for Trade and Development (ITD), was established by UNCTAD and the Royal Thai Government.

Mr. Manu Sithiprasasana holds a Master's Degree in Political Science focusing on International Relations from Chulalongkorn University. Over 4 years of posting at ITD, his vast experience covers a wide array of expertise, including Project Leader of BOI Project: Thai Overseas Investment Training Course, Administration Leader of Regional Trade Policy Course, a joint programme for Government Officer in Trade and Commerce in the Asia Pacific with WTO, Chulalongkorn University, and ITD. Especially, Mr. Manu is an exponent in the field of Sales and Marketing Management, Public Administration Management, Policy Analysis, and proficient in Social Services in both public and private sectors, such as Japanese Shipping Line, Thai-Hongkong Shipping Line, Thai-Taiwanese Transport Co., Shinawatra Directory Co., and as well as, Advisor to Bangkok Governor, Big Trees Group and more. 

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Rupa Chanda
Director, ESCAP
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Ms. Rupa Chanda is the Director of Trade, Investment and Innovation. Prior to that, she was a Professor of Economics at IIM Bangalore and the Dean of Programmes at the institute. She has worked as an Economist at the IMF and briefly served as Head, UNESCAP Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia in New Delhi. Prof. Chanda received her PhD in Economics from Columbia University and her Bachelor’s from Harvard University. She teaches Macroeconomics and International Trade and has received teaching awards. Her research interests include the WTO, trade in services, regional integration and migration. She hasundertaken research and professional assignments forinternational and Indian organizations and has published extensively in the form of books, journal articles, book chapters, and reports. She is active professionally as a research guide, reviewer, and member of several expert committees. She was member of the WHO’s Review Committee on the functioning of the International Health Regulations (2015-16) and  the WHO’s Expert Advisory Group, International Recruitment of Health Personnel (2019-20).

Mr. Yann Duval
Yann Duval
Chief, Trade Policy and Facilitation Section, Trade, Investment and Innovation Division (TIID), ESCAP
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Mr. Yann Duval is currently Chief of Trade Policy and Facilitation at ESCAP, the regional branch of the United Nations Secretariat for Asia and the Pacific.

Over the past 15 years, Mr. Duval has conducted research and delivered technical assistance and advisory services on trade policy and facilitation throughout Asia and the Pacific, including on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. He spearheaded the development of the Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNeT), as well as the creation of the ESCAP-World Bank Trade Cost Database and the UN Global Survey on Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation. Mr. Duval was also instrumental in the development of the United Nations Network of Experts for Paperless Trade and Transport in Asia and the Pacific (UNNExT) and the negotiation of a new intergovernmental Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, adopted as a UN treaty in 2016.

Prior to joining the UN, He held faculty positions at the Asian Institute of Technology and Washington State University, USA.

Buniga Chamsai
Deputy Director-General, Department of Trade Negotiations, Ministry of Commerce, Thailand
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Nihal Pitigala
Lead Economist, World Bank
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Nihal Pitigala is an economist with over 20 years of experience providing analytical and advisory work to promote sustainable trade and market-led development in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Dr. Pitigala brings extensive expertise in diagnosing and assessing the impacts of regional trade agreements and trade policy reforms (including qualitative and quantitative modelling), regional and global value chains and standards and has published numerous peer reviewed articles. Dr. Pitigala is currently engaged by the World Bank to develop a strategy for the regional integration of four Sahel countries in West Africa. He was previously engaged as the Lead Economist for a USAID/State Department contracted initiative on Pan African regional integration program. He has similar experience in across South, Central and East Asia. At the World Bank, Dr. Pitigala supported both research (Development Economics Research Group) and operational work (PREM Trade Group)—this included several policy papers on trade policy as part of CEM or PRSP and through recent Diagnostic Trade Integration Strategies in Asia and Africa. He also helped the development of the World Bank Group’s (Prem-Trade) Trade Strategy, 2011-2021. He obtained a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex. His selected areas of expertise and recent experience include:

• Regional and Multilateral Trade Analysis and Negotiations—Diagnostics of regional trade integration, including regional communities in Africa (EAC, COMESA, SADC, ECOWAS, EU-EPAs), in Asia include (SAFTA, ASEAN, APTA, BIMSTEC, TPP and bilateral FTAs), MENA (GAFTA, Agadir), and Latin America (MERCOSUR). Co-manager of the World Bank’s technical assistance to developing countries in preparation for the WTO Doha and Uruguay Rounds.

• Trade Facilitation: diagnostics of trade frictions across trade and transport corridors in Central Asia. Programs facilitating the implementation of WTO TFA. Recent lecture series for policy-makers in East Asia on the implementation of the WTO TFA.

• Trade Competitiveness—analytical/empirical and policy work on trade policy reforms, export competitiveness, and trade diagnostics (DTISs) and development strategies, analytical/empirical work on vertical integration (of regional and global value chains) and export diversification.

• Investment policy and business enabling environment of SMEs—policy, legal, regulatory and institutional reforms to improve investment climate/business enabling environment.

• Other skills: Stata, SPSS, Experience in econometric analysis using GTAP, Partial Equilibrium, gravity modelling. a proven track record of effective communication and liaison with senior government officials. Training of government staff on trade integration, strategic trade and export policies and trade and investment regulatory reform.

Mustafizur Rahman
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Dhaka
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Abdur Rahim Khan
Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh
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Dechen Zam
Senior Trade Officer, Export Promotion Division, Department of Trade, Ministry of Economic Affairs Bhutan
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Mandakini Kaul
South Asia Regional coordinator, World Bank
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Selim Raihan
Selim Raihan
Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh and the Executive Director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (SANEM)
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Professor Selim Raihan is a Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh and the Executive Director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM). He holds a PhD from the University of Manchester, UK.

Professor Raihan is the Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, UK. He is an alumnus of Harvard University’s program on “Cutting Edge of Development Thinking”. He possesses vast expertise in empirical research on international trade, economic growth, poverty, labour market, macroeconomic policies, political economy, and climate change issues. He has worked quite extensively on applied economics, especially assessing impacts of trade and economic policies, using country-specific and global Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) models, and micro and macro-econometric modelling and estimation techniques. He has a long experience in teaching international trade, economic modelling, quantitative economics, econometrics, development economics, and poverty dynamics. He has more than 15 years of experience in conducting international and national training programmes on economic modelling in various countries, including Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Mongolia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. He has published several journal articles, books, book chapters and working papers.

Professor Raihan is the editor of Thinking Aloud – a monthly digest from SANEM. He regularly writes columns in leading English and Bengali dailies in Bangladesh. He contributed extensively to the preparation of the Sixth and Seventh Five-year National Plans of Bangladesh. He led a research team to prepare the SDG Financing Strategy: Bangladesh Perspective -a flagship publication of the Planning Commission of Bangladesh. He has worked for several national and international organizations including the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, UNDP, UNESCAP, UNCTAD, IFPRI, the Commonwealth Secretariat, FAO, European Commission, ILO, IDRC, DFID, etc. He has led and has also been a member of a number of regional and international research projects on trade and regional integration issues. Also, he has been working on the political economy analysis of economic issues. The most recent ones are the studies on Bangladesh Institutional Diagnostic, which are prepared under his leadership and supervision, for the DFID, UK.

Adul Chotinisakorn
Former Director-General of Foreign Trade, Thailand (tbc)
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Ganeshan Wignaraja
Gateway House and ODI
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Ms. Daria Taglioni
Daria Taglioni
Research Manager, Trade and International Integration, Development Economics and Chief Economist, World Bank
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Ms. Daria Taglioni is Research Manager, Trade and International Integration, Development Research Group. She joined the World Bank Group in 2011 as Senior Trade Economist in the International Trade Department of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network (PREM). Since then, she has held various positions and roles, including Team-Task Lead for the World Development Report 2020, Principal Economist in the International Finance Corporation, and World Bank’s Global Lead on Global Value Chains. Previously, she worked as Senior Economist at the European Central Bank (ECB) and as Economist at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). She has published in the American Economic Review, Journal of International Economics, and other scholarly journals. Her work has been featured in international media outlet such as the New York Times and Forbes. She authored various books on international trade. She is Italian and holds a Ph.D. in International Economics from the Graduate Institute, Geneva.

Archanun Kophaiboon
Thammasat University, Bangkok
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Abdul Motaleb Sarker
Bangladesh
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Dhan Oli
Nepal Foreign Ministry
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Steve G. Olive
Mission Director, USAID, Thailand
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Tengfei Wang
Tengfei Wang
Economic Affairs Officer, Trade Policy and Facilitation, ESCAP
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Dr. Tengfei Wang is currently an Economic Affairs Officer at UNESCAP. Prior to February 2008 when he joined the UNESCAP, he was a Senior Lecturer in Transport/Logistics/Supply Chain Management at the University of Plymouth, United Kingdom. He is the author or coauthor of a book and over 30 published peer-reviewed research papers and acted as the chairman of International Association of Maritime Economists 2008 annual conference. Dr Wang was the winner of PhD competition (2002-2005), The 'Palgrave Macmillan' Prize in Maritime Economics and Logistics. The award is for the best PhD thesis successfully defended during 2002-2005 in the field of maritime economics and logistics, as determined by an international jury comprising all members of the editorial board of Maritime Economics and Logistics (MEL).

Pushpa Sharma
Consultant, Nepal
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Rahul Bhatnagar
Bhatnagar Advisers
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Satya Prasad Sahu
World Bank
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Pema Ghaley
General Secretary, ABI, Bhutan
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Mahishini Colonne
Director, BIMSTEC Secretariat
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Ms. Sanchita Basu Das
Sanchita Basu Das
Economist, ADB
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Ms. Sanchita Basu-Das is Economist at the Regional Cooperation and Integration Division of the Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department of ADB. She contributes to the division’s flagship publications, knowledge products and analytical studies. Her core research interests include regional cooperation initiatives and issues related to them, such as trade, logistics, industrial corridors, tourism, digital economy, institutions and others. Sanchita has published in international journals including the Singapore Economic Review, Journal of World Trade and Asia Pacific Economic Literature, authored/ edited books and book chapters and wrote for media. Sanchita joined ADB in November 2018 and initially served as an Economist in the South Asia Regional Department.

Prior to joining the ADB, Sanchita was the Lead Researcher for Economic Affairs at the ASEAN Studies Centre of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. She was concurrently a Fellow of the Regional Economic Studies Program, coordinator of Singapore APEC Studies Centre and a co-editor of Journal of Southeast Asian Economies (JSEAE), all housed under the same institute. Sanchita earned her PhD in International Political Economy from Nanyang Technology University, Singapore, and her Masters in Economics and Business Management from the University of Delhi and the National University of Singapore respectively.

Li Donxiang
Lead Regional Cooperation and Integration Specialist, ADB
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Tiem Hee Ng
Director, Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division South Asia Department, ADB
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Ruth Banomyong
Thammasat Business School, Thailand
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Ganeshan Wignaraja
Gateway House and ODI
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Pritam Banerjee
ADB, New Delhi
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Weerasakdi, Prem-Aree
Director, BIMSTEC Secretariat
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Rakesh Tiwari
Under Secretary (BIMSTEC), Ministry of External Affairs, India
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Ravi Sehgal
President, Indo-Thai Chamber of Commerce, Thailand
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Rajeev Singh
Director General, Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
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Madhurjya Kumar Dutta
Director, Mekong Institute, Thailand
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Sonam Lhamo, Dy.
Chief Industries Officer, FDI Division, Department of Industry, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Bhutan
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Nadeeka Wataliadda
Additional Secretary Development and Innovation, Ministry Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka
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Sabyasachi Kar
Professor of Indian Institute of Economic Growth
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Kiatipong Ariyapruchya
Senior Country Economist for Thailand, World Bank, Thailand
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Hongpeng Liu
Director, Energy Division, ESCAP
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Venkatachalam Anbumozhi
Director of Research Strategy and Innovation, ERIA
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Jai Govind Singh
Associate Professor and Head of EECC Department, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand
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Madhusudan Adhikari
Executive Director, Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC), Nepal
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Krittiya Petsee
Senior Policy and Plan Analyst, International Affairs Division, Ministry of Energy, Thailand
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Shahidul Islam
Former SG, BIMSTEC
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Prabir De
Prabir De
Professor, the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), New Delhi
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Mr. Prabir De is Professor at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS). He is also the Coordinator of ASEAN-India Centre (AIC) at RIS. De works in the field of international economics and has research interests in international trade and development. He was a visiting Fellow of the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), Tokyo; and visiting Senior Fellow of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Bangkok. He has been conducting policy research for the Government of India and several international organizations. De has a Ph.D. in Economics from the Jadavpur University, Calcutta. He has contributed several research papers in international journals and written books on trade and development. He is the managing editor of South Asia Economic Journal, published by Sage.

Watcharas Leelawath
Bolliger & Company (Thailand)
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Jiraporn Wattanasophorn
BIMSTEC Unit Chief, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand
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Sirikan Prasertying
Director of International Cooperation, ITD
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for more information, please contact

Trade, Investment and Innovation Division +66 2 288-1234 [email protected]
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