Weicheng Lian, Fei Liu, Katsiaryna Svirydzenka, and Biying Zhu
While South Asia has gone a long way in diversifying their economies, there is substantial scope to do more. Some countries – India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka – can build on their existing production capabilities; others – Bangladesh, Bhutan, and the Maldives – would need to undertake a more concerted push. We identify key policies from a large set of potential determinants that explain the variation in export diversification and complexity across 189 countries from 1962 to 2018. Our analysis suggests that South Asia needs to invest in infrastructure, education, and R&D, facilitate bank credit to productive companies, and open to trade in order to diversify and move up the value chains. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, investing in digital technologies as part of the infrastructure push and improving education are of even greater importance to facilitate the ability to work remotely and assist resource reallocation away from the less viable sectors.
Public investment is likely to be an important component of any postcrisis recovery program. As countries work to ensure a smart, green, fair recovery, investing in modern, resilient, and efficient infrastructure assets will be key. This How to Note discusses how countries should manage public investments to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and similar crises. It provides countries with guidance on making efficient use of public investment to support economic recovery on three different capacity levels: basic, medium, and advanced.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This Selected Issues paper on Nepal measures the extent to which Nepal’s households change their expenditure patterns and labor supply in response to remittances, using the Nepal Household Risk and Vulnerability Survey—2016 and employing a propensity score matching method. This study provides stylized facts on migrant workers and remittance-recipient households (HH), and then analyzes the effect of remittances on HHs' expenditure patterns and labor supply. Reliance on remittances, both at the macro and household levels, makes Nepal highly vulnerable to shifts that could diminish remittance inflows. The slowdown in growth of remittances has been significant since 2016, owing to weak economic performance in major remittance-sending economies and less outward migration. This study also analyzes the effect of remittances on labor market participation of left behind household heads, using a propensity score matching method. The results show that remittances have supported greater consumption of productive goods (such as durable goods, education and health), without discouraging labor supply of remittance-receiving family members.
Ms. Manuela Goretti, Mr. Daisaku Kihara, Mr. Ranil M Salgado, and Ms. Anne Marie Gulde
Since the mid-1980s, durable reforms coupled with prudent macroeconomic management have brought steady progress to the South Asia region, making it one of the world’s fastest growing regions. Real GDP growth has steadily increased from an average of about 3 percent in the 1970s to 7 percent over the last decade. Although growth trajectories varied across countries, reforms supported strong per capita income growth in the region, lifting over 200 million people out of poverty in the last three decades. Today, South Asia accounts for one-fifth of the world’s population and, thanks to India’s increasing performance, contributes to over 15 percent of global growth.
Looking ahead, the authors find that South Asia is poised to play an even bigger role in the global economy, in both relative and absolute terms. India has overtaken China as the fastest growing large economy and South Asia’s contribution to global growth is set to increase, while more mature economies decelerate. Greater economic diversification, with an expansion of the service sector, improvements in education, and a still sizable demographic dividend are among the key elements underpinning this performance.
Based on demographic trends, more than 150 million people in the region are expected to enter the labor market by 2030. This young and large workforce can be South Asia’s strength, if supported by a successful high-quality and job-rich growth strategy. Amid a changing global economic landscape, the authors argue that South Asia will need to leverage on all sectors of the economy in a balanced way, supporting improvements in agricultural productivity and a sustainable expansion of manufacturing, while promoting higher-skill services, to achieve this goal.
Co-movement (synchronicity) in inflation rates among a set of 13 emerging and developing countries in Asia is shown to be strongest for the food component, partly due to common rainfall shocks—a result which the paper terms the ‘monsoon effect.’ Economies with higher trade integration and co-movement in nominal effective exchange rates also experience greater food-inflation co-movement. By contrast, cross-country co-movement in core inflation is weak and the aforementioned determinants have little explanatory power, suggesting a prominent role for idiosyncratic domestic factors in driving core inflation. In the context of the growing literature on the globalization of inflation, these results suggest that common weather patterns are partly responsible for any role played by a so-called ‘global factor’ among inflation rates in emerging and developing economies, in Asia at least.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This Selected Issues paper examines the degree to which inflation co-moves between India and a panel of countries in Asia. The paper shows that the considerable co-movement in headline inflation rates between India and Nepal is driven almost exclusively by food-inflation co-movement. By contrast, the role for inflation spillovers emanating from India in driving non-food inflation in Nepal appears limited. The implication is that Nepal should rely on domestic monetary policy rather than stable inflation in India to achieve stable domestic inflation. The main takeaway from the results is that food inflation co-movement between India and other countries is higher in cases where the co-movement in rainfall deviations from seasonal norms is highest. Since core inflation co-movement is weak, idiosyncratic domestic factors such as economic slack, exchange-rate movements, and differing degrees of passthrough from food- and energy-price shocks play an important role. This finding is critically important for monetary policy, especially since domestic policy is primarily effective only in controlling core inflation. Thus, domestic monetary policy needs to be calibrated to domestic inflationary pressures—Nepal cannot necessarily rely on stable inflation in India to achieve stable domestic inflation.