CROSS-BOR­DER E-COMMERCE FOR SAARC

Buy­ing Bangladesh tex­tiles or Pak­istani veg­eta­bles from your phone is easy.

PCQuest - - TECH - Ra­jneesh De | ra­jneeshd@cy­ber­me­dia.co.in

Thimpu-based SAARC De­vel­op­ment Fund (SDF), the cross boarder project um­brella fi­nanc­ing in­sti­tu­tion for SAARC Mem­ber States, is in the process of devel­op­ing an e-commerce plat­form for en­abling seam­less trade of goods and ser­vices across SAARC Mem­ber States giv­ing a fil­lip to bud­ding en­trepreneurs in the re­gion, This was in­formed by Dr Su­nil Moti­wal, CEO of SDF at the side­lines of the two-day SAARC De­vel­op­ment Fund Part­ner­ship Con­clave in Delhi.

Ac­cord­ing to Moti­wal, the ini­tia­tives like e- commerce plat­form along with fund­ing the ‘start-ups’ found an in­stant sup­port among in­ter­na­tional fund­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions like the World Bank( WB), Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank (ADB) and the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank (AIIB). The Start-Up pro­gram would in­clude en­trepreneurs as well in ar­eas like re­new­able en­ergy, agri­cul­ture, health and mi­cro- en­ter­prises, es­pe­cially in the MSME seg­ments,” he said

Ac­cord­ing to the SDF, cur­rently only 4% of the to­tal trade of the eight SAARC mem­ber na­tions is tak­ing place within the re­gion. This can be in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly by ini­tia­tives like e- commerce, a boom­ing busi­ness across the world. Stake­hold­ers can work on build­ing com­mon fa­cil­i­ties for lo­gis­tic, ware­hous­ing and trans­porta­tion.

The com­mon e- commerce plat­form has a great po­ten­tial for en­hanc­ing the in­tra-SAARC trade and ser­vices. For in­stance, con­sumers of Bangladesh tex­tile any­where in the re­gion and even else­where can place or­ders on the e- commerce plat­form. Like­wise, a range of com­modi­ties in­clud­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles grown in Bhutan, Pak­istan or In­dia can be sold and bought on­line, im­mensely help­ing the pro­duc­ers and the con­sumers. The re­gion has the age pro­file of 15-24 years, a per­fect fit for on­line busi­ness. Be­sides, it has a huge pool of skilled man­power, low cost work­force and abun­dant nat­u­ral re­sources. On reg­u­la­tory issues, the SDF plans to con­nect with reg­u­la­tors, central banks of all the mem­ber states and em­pha­size the un­der­ly­ing po­ten­tial of on­line trad­ing. Be­sides, there is also a pro­posal of in­tro­duc­ing a plas­tic SAARC money card which can have de­nom­i­na­tions of all the cur­ren­cies in the re­gion. As an ad­junct, the SAARC mem­ber states have also raised issues like speed­ier visa by the mem­ber coun­tries, cur­rency and pay­ment fa­cil­i­ta­tion, trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion at the bor­ders, fi­nan­cial con­nec­tiv­ity and re­viv­ing the SAFTA into a dy­namic trade zone. Es­tab­lished in 2010 by heads of eight SAARC mem­ber. states, the Thimpu-based SDF has so far com­pleted the fi­nan­cial clo­sure of $73.75 mil­lion of which $47 mil­lion has al­ready been dis­bursed in 12 cross boarder projects. It has also granted in-prin­ci­ple ap­provals for two en­ergy cross bor­der projects with com­mit­ment of $30 mil­lion in the re­gion. With an au­tho­rized cap­i­tal of $1.5 bil­lion and a to­tal cap­i­tal base of $500 mil­lion, the SDF is work­ing to en­hance its credit port­fo­lio to $300 mil­lion in the next few years by fi­nanc­ing a range of projects in­clud­ing re­new­able sources, trans­porta­tion, tele­com and en­vi­ron­ment in the SAARC re­gion.

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