Developing White Paper on Regional Parliamentary Forum on Energy Cooperation and Energy Trade in South Asia

The cooperation between countries in South Asia namely Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka presents a low hanging opportunity for member nations in Asia Pacific to usher equitable economic development and prosperity in the region. Given that the member countries command 1.46 billion people (21% of world population), have stayed on a high economic growth curve and are expected to buttress a big share of commodity demand in future, an optimal transition in these countries also provide a convenient opportunity for the world to meet its sustainability objectives.

Energy, in this context, has been a common agenda on the table, given that countries in the region aspire for common goals of energy security, universal quality energy access and optimal regulation and increase in competition with the entry of private sector. Regional diversity of energy resources remains a unique feature among these countries and, therefore, a huge potential for Cross Border Energy Trade (CBET) has always been envisaged. The efficient functioning of borders for energy trade is more so important now, from the perspective of regional balancing of energy with higher share of renewables.

Conspicuously, even with compelling techno-economic feasibility for high levels of CBET in the region, the proposition has hardly moved beyond drawing board. The cross-border energy trade in the region has been primarily anchored around bilateral electricity trade, especially by harnessing the hydropower resources in mountainous regions. Nevertheless, the potential remains more, not only in the electricity sector but in the areas of natural gas, distributed renewable energy and other modern technologies. It has been argued that there has been lack of political will and mutual understanding for investment towards a shared infrastructure that has hampered the region from exploring the full potential of cross-border energy trade.
Therefore, there is need to create a political economy discourse to build positive narrative around CBET by identifying champions for the cause and bottom-up assimilation of concerns of stakeholders. Establishment of Parliamentary forums can be an effective instrument to addressing the bottlenecks related greater energy cooperation in the region. CUTS International proposes a systematic strategy to achieve this goal through the proposed study.

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Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS)
D–217, Bhaskar Marg, Bani Park, Jaipur 302016, Rajasthan, India
Ph: +91 141 2282821, Fax: +91 141 2282485, Email:

Bipul Chatterjee
Executive Director

Sarthak Shukla
Assistant Policy Analyst