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Politics impeding cross-border energy trade: Study

UNI India, January 19,2018

New Delhi, Jan 19 (UNI) National and regional politics had proved to be stumbling blocks to ensure energy security in the Bay of Bengal region, a study by non-governmental organisation CUTS International said.
Participating in a day-long symposium on Friday over the findings of the Consumer Unity and Trust Society International Study, a cross-section of speakers here, while endorsing the conclusions, said increased cross border integration and energy cooperation was crucial not only for regional energy security in the region but also to promote livelihood and gender empowerment in the area.
The dialogue was organised under United States Agency for International Development’s South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Integration.
CUTS International had undertaken the study to assess the impact of cross border electricity trade on gender and livelihood in the Bay of Bengal region. The study captured cases from Nepal and Bhutan.
The speakers highlighted that there were opportunities to exploit regional complementarities emanating from seasonal electricity generation and consumption.
Effective use of these complementarities not only had the potential to create value for local people through energy trade but also strengthened the case for private sector investment, if political negotiations between the countries, can be worked out, the study said.
In his address at the event, World Bank Group Lead Energy Specialist Simon Stolp said that regional trade in electricity should be seen both at bilateral as well as from a regional perspective.
Policy makers need, he added, to be told not just about the benefits of electricity cooperation but also how benefits from energy trade flow to the people.
CUTS International Executive Director Bipul Chatterjee pointed out that energy treaties were not always balanced between bigger and smaller countries. Therefore, to facilitate greater regional cooperation, it was imperative that both the parties in a treaty should get equitable benefits.
Supporting the study contents, Asian Development Bank Former Managing Director Rajat Nag said that there was ample evidence to show that enhanced regional cooperation strengthened regional security.
Bhutan Electricity Authority Chief Executive Officer Samdrup K Thinley said that while the nation was a net exporter of electricity, there were substantive energy imports in the Himalayan kingdom. Thus, it would be more economical if there was an optimum energy trade in the region in an integrated manner.
The dialogue registered stellar participation of Minister Economic at Embassy of Nepal Krishna Hari Pushkar, Former Competition Commission of India Member Geeta Gouri, and Assam Science Technology and Environment Council Director Arup Misra, among other experts.

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