South Asia is one of the least integrated regions of the world. The efforts to build an effective economic cooperation model have been going on ever since the establishment of SAARC in 1985. However, in recent years there has been a greater emphasis on achieving the deeper regional economic integration. Both the governments and businesses in South Asia have started recognizing the benefits of greater economic cooperation in the region, especially in light of the global slowdown. They are trying to improve their business environments, facilitate crossborder trade and regional economic relations. The most noteworthy development is the rising interest of the private sector, which was never so strong and explicit.
In order to help regional trade and investment achieve its potential, private sector firms seek more enabling policies and infrastructure support from their governments. They feel that timely additional support and facilitation by governments is necessary in order to achieve deeper regional cooperation and maximize its impact on regional and national levels. In order to structure these requests for support, the private sector is organizing itself to support dialogue between business leaders across the region, exchange ideas with government bodies, and explore exciting new avenues for promoting regional cooperation, trade, and investment. However, these business-to-business dialogues are more happening at bilateral level rather than regional level.
To support these key private sector initiatives a joint effort has been launched by the World Bank Group & Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to establish and leverage strategic partnerships.