The South Asia Regional Programme seeks to promote regional cooperation and reduce trans-boundary barriers to economic growth and trade that cannot be addressed solely at the country level. The Programme is focused on two key development challenges in South Asia: regional connectivity with a focus on trade facilitation; and sustainable development, with a specific focus on improving water, food and energy security.
Partnerships will be the main delivery mechanism for regional assistance in South Asia. We will work with multilateral agencies, regional organisations, Australian government departments, civil society organisations and partner governments to foster the cooperation needed to address regional development challenges.
Australia’s regional aid investments aim to increase cross-border cooperation to reduce poverty and address the gap between growing and lagging regions. For example:
- Australia will support inclusive economic growth by addressing low levels of intra-regional trade and poor connectivity through an aid for trade activity which aims to reduce trade costs at priority border posts in the region. This will promote economic opportunities for women and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) by improving regulation, harmonising border procedures, and strengthening key institutions such as customs.
- Governments in the region will benefit through capacity building and training to allow them to build an enabling environment for business and trade, which can also drive social and human development through promoting economic opportunities for women. More broadly, addressing trade facilitation issues can support integration into the global economy; increase competitiveness, diversification and development of value chains/entry into global supply chains; foster private sector development; and improve regional economic relations, foreign direct investment and growth.
The infrastructure gap in South Asia is another major challenge to connectivity both within countries and the region, and a major driver of poverty. Australia’s investments will help to close this gap by supporting analytical work and technical assistance to facilitate policy and institutional reform in sectors including transport and energy. Technical assistance activities will examine issues of economic and social connectivity, institutional capacity, governance, and drivers of conflict and fragility to develop a knowledge base for assessing opportunities and challenges to meeting the infrastructure gap in these sectors to promote trade and integration across and within the South Asia region.
Australia is also promoting sustainable development in South Asia, with funding supporting improved water resource management; better agricultural practices to generate higher farm productivity and incomes; and increased access to energy, benefitting women and girls. Our investments target female-headed households, agricultural productivity, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and leverage Australia’s expertise in water resource management.
Archived details of expenditure for this program for 2013–14 can be found here.
Archived details of expenditure for DFAT’s aid program, following the Government’s announcement on 18 January 2014 to revise the aid budget, can be found here.