This blog highlights the findings from the recent South Asia Economic Focus: Exports Wanted
Bela Balassa worked for the World Bank from 1966 till his death in 1991. Luckily, his insights on international integration, revealed comparative advantages, trade diversion, and natural progress toward political integration have outlived him.
And what Bela is best-known for—and rightfully so—is the Balassa-Samuelson effect.
Put simply, this effect explains why a haircut or a restaurant meal is much cheaper in poor countries than in rich countries whereas the price tag for a car or a television is almost the same everywhere.
What’s behind this phenomenon is simple and can be summed up in three parts.
Second, the prices of non-tradable goods like haircuts can differ.
And third, the difference in productivity across countries is much more significant in tradable goods than in non-tradable goods. For example, a barber in Dhaka needs roughly the same amount of time as a barber in New York to cut my hair.
But manufacturers or farmers in Nepal need more labor to produce the same output than their counterparts in Germany.
This blog highlights the findings from the recent South Asia Economic Focus: Exports Wanted
The good news is that several countries in the region,
But overall, .
In this context, it’s critical to confront failures that impede progress toward better health and nutrition in the region. Even more so since some undernutrition challenges persist, and new ones are emerging.
This starts early in a child’s life as breastfeeding rates remain low. Though early initiation of breastfeeding has more than doubled to 40 percent between 2000 and 2016, more than 20 million infants are still not being breastfed within the first hour of birth.
Progress is also uneven across the region: breastfeeding initiation ranges from 18 percent in Pakistan to about 90 percent in Sri Lanka.
Also worrisome is that
Further to that, the diets of infants over six months continue to be one of South Asia’s biggest and most persistent challenges.
“There is power in not being alone,”
Demetrios Papathanasiou - Practice Manager, South Asia Energy Unit at The World Bank
The number of women working in the energy and power sector in South Asia is dismally low.
As for women engineers and technicians, the proportion is even lower: less than 1 to 6 percent.
To promote opportunities for women in the power and energy sectors, especially in technical roles, the World Bank and its partners recently organized the first regional conference for Women in Power Sector Network in South Asia (WePOWER).
and provided networking and learning opportunities to women and girls.
A recent study found that investing in peer networks and building up proteges as two of the six things successful women in STEM have in common.
From a personal point of view, I have learned something powerful during the event: When strong and smart women work together and are supported by men who value women’s engagement as equals, let alone in the engineering or energy sectors, something magical happens.
This blog is part of a series examining women’s economic empowerment in South Asia. Starting today on International Women's Day and over the next few weeks, we will be exploring successful interventions, research, and experience to improve gender equality across the region.
Meet Fazeela Dharmaratne from Sri Lanka.
Her story, like that of millions of other women in South Asia, is one of struggle between family and work and a story worth telling as we mark International Women’s Day.
Unlike too many of her female peers, Fazeela was able to reinvent herself professionally.
As a young woman, straight out of school, she joined a bank in Colombo as a banking assistant. In 17 years, she climbed up the corporate ladder to become regional manager—a position she later quit to care for her children.
Unfazed, Fazeela started her own small home-based daycare business in 2012, initially serving only 4-5 children. Today, Fazeela is the director of the CeeBees pre-school and childcare centers serving several corporate clients in Colombo.
Fazeela’s success belies the fact that
And while employment rates have gone down across the region, women account for most of this decline.
These numbers are worrying because a drop in female employment has important social costs.
First, when women control a greater share of household incomes, children are healthier and do better in school.
Second, when women work for pay, they have a greater voice in their households, in their communities, and society.
A recent study by the International Monetary Fund estimated that
The good news is that
I just ended my first round of country visits as the World Bank’s Vice President for the South Asia Region. Over and above all,
These women are succeeding in a region where it is hard for women to realize their career dreams. .
What better opportunity than International Women’s Day to give a huge shout-out and applaud those women who are role models, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the eight countries of South Asia.
The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement has been in effect since 2006—with little success.
This is in sharp contrast to the ASEAN free trade area (AFTA), which started in 1992 with six six countries and later added more members, completing the ASEAN ten by 1999.
Between 1992 and 2017, intraregional imports as a share of global imports in ASEAN increased from 17 to 24 percent, and exports from 21 to 27 percent.
In South Asia, these shares were largely stagnant since SAFTA came into effect, at 3 percent for intraregional imports and 6-7 percent for intraregional exports.
In fact, .
That’s why .
But whether an individual consumes—or not—nutritious food is contingent upon a myriad of factors, ranging from the availability of certain foods, how convenient they can be turned into meals, or simply, if they meet consumers’ tastes.
But above all, .
The irony is that while these states have not contributed much to greenhouse emissions, as they produce very little, they may face some of the worst consequences.
As one of the lowest-lying countries in the world, with all its people living a few meters above sea level and over two-thirds of its critical infrastructure lying within 100 meters of the shoreline, a sea level rise of just a few meters will put the nation further at risk, endangering its relative prosperity.
Thankfully Maldives is beginning to turn the tide.
Yesterday I visited Fuvahmulah, in one of the southernmost atolls where the Mayor and the Ministry of Environment, have been working closely with local communities to manage the wetlands, critical for reducing climate change impacts.
I saw scores of young Maldivians enjoying the facilities and learning about conservation. A true win-win. Community participation has helped enhance the design and acceptability of this initiative.
Scaled up, such initiatives can have a transformational impact and it is imperative that the Government of Maldives take the lessons from this Bank supported initiative to 19 other atolls.
Creating a safer archipelago
The Indian Ocean tsunami that battered the islands in 2004 provided a glimpse of what can happen – a clear wake-up call.
The government responded by increasing its emphasis on building resilience in infrastructure and providing its people with early warnings in the event of an underwater earthquake.
Today, in the Greater Malé region, the reclaimed island of Hulhumalé is being developed with better sea defenses and elevated buildings from where people can be evacuated as needed.
The government is also raising people’s understanding of the causes and effects of natural disasters, particularly those that come on suddenly, such as tsunamis and flooding.
Over this period,
However, vulnerability to environmental sustainability and climate change are among the challenges that the country faces.
To help respond to them, , strengthening natural resources management and climate resilience, while improving public financial management and policy-making through strengthening institutions.
Here are five milestones of our engagement:
1. Joining the World Bank
The Articles of Agreements were signed by His Excellency Fathulla Jameel, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations. At that time, Maldives had a GDP per capita of just over $200 and had achieved independence only 13 years prior.
2. First project signing
The project helped mechanize fishing craft, established repair centers, and installed navigational aids to increase the safety of fishing operations.
Those present for the signing from left to right, Said El-Naggar, Executive Director of the World Bank for Maldives, His Excellency Ahamed Zaki, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Maldives to the United Nations, and Robert Picciottto, Projects Director for South Asia.
If, like me, you’re a firm believer in New Year’s resolutions, early January ushers in the prospect of renewed energy and exciting opportunities. And as tradition has it, it’s also a time to enter the prediction game.
To sum up:
Notably, and despite increasing conflicts and growing fragility, Afghanistan is expected to increase its growth to 2.7 percent rate this year.
In this otherwise positive outlook, Pakistan’s growth is projected to slow to 3.7 percent in fiscal year 2018-19 as the country is tightening its financial conditions to help counter rising inflation and external vulnerabilities.
However, activity is projected to rebound and average 4.6 percent over the medium term.