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PSIR 2B-3.1 Regional Cooperation – Previous Year Questions – Solved

Previous Year Questions (2013-2022)

1] Discuss the ways and means to realise greater economic co-operation among the Member States of South Asia. [2022/10m/150w/5b]

2] Why South Asia is considered as the world’s politically and economically least integrated region? Explain. [2021/20m/250w/7a]

3] Outline the reasons of low volume of trade in the SAARC region. [2020/10m/150w/5b]

4] What are the impediments in the development of the South Asian free trade area (SAFTA)? [2017/10m/150w/5b]

5] Sometimes we visualise that SAARC’s effort comes to halt because of various impediments to regional cooperation. Elaborate with reasonable examples of impediments. [2016/10m/150w/5e]

6] Identify the constraints / challenges to the regional cooperation in South Asia. [2015/10m/150w/5c]

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Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2022)

1] Discuss the ways and means to realise greater economic co-operation among the Member States of South Asia. [2022/10m/150w/5b]

There is now a broad consensus that openness to trade, coupled with improved infrastructure, must be a key component of policies to accelerate economic growth in South Asia.

To achieve greater cooperation in South Asia, a lot needs to be done. To begin with, multiple legal and policy reforms should be carried out i.e. implementation of effective border crossing and transport services; effective agreement on trade and transit treaties between participating countries in the context of the SAARC, SASEC, BIMSTEC; establishment of a facility to encourage investments in small and medium enterprise exporters and to improve their market access; and promotion of human resource development, better education, and appropriate technology transfer. In addition to the soft infrastructure, South Asian countries need to work on connectivity and infrastructural development like roads, rail and communication.

It is also important to de-couple political foreign policy and, economic and trade policy. In the case of India and Pakistan, Pakistan especially suffers loss as it reacts to political developments by cutting off economic trade. South Asian borders are generally porous, and people from neighbouring countries usually migrate to India for work, hence, India along with its neighbours should develop a migration policy.

Closer and properly planned bilateral cooperation among countries will strengthen the regional cooperation and integration process (e.g., SAARC and BIMSTEC) and help ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of their activities.

To maximize the benefits in terms of faster growth and poverty reduction, the South Asian region needs to strengthen regional and bilateral cooperation in several areas, together with ambitious structural reforms to entrench macroeconomic stability and ensure an attractive and conducive environment for investment. [271 words]

2] Why South Asia is considered as the world’s politically and economically least integrated region? Explain. [2021/20m/250w/7a]

South Asia’s history is marked by a legacy of colonial rule and post-colonial divisions, subsequent conflicts and historical animosities and unresolved territorial issues. All of this have hindered trust and cooperation among South Asian nations, and in turn, affected their collective progress.

South Asia is characterized by geopolitical rivalries and power struggles among its major players, primarily India and Pakistan. The enduring conflict, including issues related to territorial disputes, terrorism, and divergent strategic interests, has impeded regional integration efforts.

South Asia comprises a diverse set of countries with varying political systems, priorities, and levels of development. Disparities in economic size, population, and resource endowments also create asymmetrical power dynamics, making it challenging to achieve consensus and cooperation.

The region faces security challenges, including terrorism, insurgency, and cross-border tensions. These security concerns have limited the willingness of countries to deepen regional integration due to fears of compromising their own security and sovereignty. This has hindered the development of robust mechanisms for cooperation, including intelligence sharing, joint counter-terrorism efforts, and border management.

Inadequate physical infrastructure, including transportation networks, power grids, and logistical facilities, inhibits the efficient movement of goods, services, and people within the region. Limited connectivity hampers trade, investment, and regional cooperation impeding efforts towards greater economic integration.

While one may hope that the regional organization will solve issues, the existing regional organization, SAARC, faces challenges in effectively addressing regional issues due to political differences and limited decision-making powers, creating a deadlock for the countries involved.

Addressing these challenges requires political will, dialogue, and concerted efforts towards confidence-building measures, conflict resolution, and regional economic integration. The onus invariably falls on India since it has loud claims like the fastest growing large economy, largest democracy, peace-loving society etc. to its merit. [289 words]

3] Outline the reasons of low volume of trade in the SAARC region. [2020/10m/150w/5b]

While South Asia’s total trade volume has been increasing for the past ten years, intra-regional trade still remains low. In one of the analyses, World Bank concludes that SAFTA member countries have tended to trade far more extensively with industrial economies like the United States and the European Union, due perhaps to differences in factor endowments.

The pace of tariff reforms under the existing South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) has been very slow and overshadowed by fragmented bilateral agreements within the region as well as outside of the region.

Further, for trade facilitation to spur regional cooperation and inclusive growth, the following significant constraints should be addressed: (1) high tariff walls; (2) inefficiencies in ports operation and logistics performance; (3) inefficient custom and regulatory environment, and land or crossborder procedures; and (4) unresolved regional and internal political conflicts and strife.

Additionally, the lack of competitiveness in sectors like manufacturing, infrastructure bottlenecks, residual bureaucratic impediments to private sector development, and macroeconomic imbalances are some other constraints that affect the development of trade in these economies.

Eliminating high tariff walls and non-tariff barriers, simplifying customs and border requirements and improving the trade-related infrastructure will facilitate greater trade and interaction among countries of the region, which in turn will enable the region to realize the potential benefits of intra-regional as well as inter-regional trade. [222 words]

The post contains answers to the last 5-year papers i.e. (2022-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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