With support from The Asia Foundation, the Consumer Unity and Trust Society in India (CUTS International) implemented a project titled “Cost of Economic Non-Cooperation to Consumers in South Asia,” which highlighted the costs to South Asian consumers as a result of existing trade restrictions in the region. The study was conducted in five South Asian countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. IPS carried out the survey in Sri Lanka. Based on a meta-analysis of the existing literature on economic integration in South Asia, a quantitative analysis, and a survey of some key stakeholders on their perceptions of regional trade integration, the study estimated the gains that would accrue to consumers from enhanced intra-regional trade. Quantitative analysis shows that importing from within the region as opposed to from outside could lead to savings of approximately US$ 2 billion a year in terms of aggregate consumer expenditure. The perception survey revealed that a lack of awareness of potential benefits and minimal representation of consumers in the trade policy making process, as opposed to producers, has led to low expectations about consumer welfare gains.
Cost of Economic Non-Cooperation to Consumers in South Asia (COENCOSA)