Thinking Aloud: Volume IV, Issue 9: February 1, 2018

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This February 2018 issue of Thinking Aloud is a special issue on the 14th South Asian Economics Students’ Meet (SAESM). On January 18-21, 2018, SANEM, with the support from the World Bank and the Asia Foundation, organized the 14th SAESM in Chittagong, Bangladesh. SAESM is a prestigious annual academic event in South Asia which is a platform for economics undergraduate students and faculties from leading universities in South Asia to come together and share their views and opinions on thematic issues. The theme for the 14th SAESM was “Sustaining South Asia”, and papers and discussions focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The conference included the Paper Presentation Competition, the Budding Economist Competition, a Quiz Competition and an Economics Debate Competition followed by a retreat. This issue provides summaries of the top 16 winning papers of the 14th SAESM. The fourth page of this issue provides glimpses of the 14th SAESM journey.

The first page article titled “Sustaining South Asia’s Regional Integration Process” explores three important factors which might have held back the progress of regional integration in South Asia. These are ‘size-imbalance’, ‘start-up stage’ and ‘convergence of development process’. The article argues that while tariff and non-tariff barriers, lack of trade facilitation and political will have their usual restraining effects, the aforementioned three other factors may qualify to be quite fundamental in understanding the unsatisfactory outcomes of the regional integration process in South Asia. The article highlights that, in contrast to the leadership experience in any other comparable regional blocs, there is a much more critical importance of India’s leadership role in South Asia in taking the regional integration agenda forward. Also, there is a need for considerable ‘unorthodox’ efforts for energizing the regional integration process in South Asia, which should involve a much greater emphasis on intra-regional services and investment integration. Finally, to energize and sustain South Asia’s regional integration process, it is very important that the member countries get their domestic policies on trade openness, foreign investment, macroeconomic management and social policies ‘right’ for a strong convergence of their development processes.

Link: Thinking Aloud: Volume IV, Issue 9: February 1, 2018