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South Asia could be linchpin for regional integration

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The ratio of working age people to total population is high in South Asian countries such as Bangladesh.   © Reuters

As the world deals with the "new normal" of a slowing China, regional financial and economic integration is more important than ever, and South Asia is strategically poised to play an influential part.

     There are several reasons why it is time to take a fresh look at the potential bridging role of South Asian economies in Asian integration. First, the South Asian economies -- which comprise India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives, Afghanistan and Bhutan -- have a largely untapped market of about 1.7 billion people, and they belong to the South Asian Free Trade Area.

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