With a combined population of more than 350 million people, frontier and developing Asia, which includes countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Bangladesh, is located in the world’s fastest-growing region and has favorable demographics. The countries share a number of common macroeconomic, financial, and structural challenges. This book addresses issues related to economic growth and structural transformation, as well as the risk of a poverty trap and rising income inequality.
Growth performance in Bangladesh is improving, but macroeconomic imbalances have also emerged. Medium-term growth targets are likely to intensify macroeconomic pressures if not managed well. Longer-term growth prospects hinge on generating sufficient resources to relieve infrastructure bottlenecks and ensuring a competitive business environment focused on labor-intensive activities. There is a need to build on the momentum of recent reforms. To ensure a stable macroeconomic environment, vigilance is foremost required on the fiscal front. The focus is on accelerating growth-promoting structural reforms, while ensuring a stable macroeconomic environment.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the surprising strength of remittances in Bangladesh and other countries in South Asia and the Philippines in 2009. The empirical analysis suggests that the continued strong growth of remittances in these countries is related to the resilience of non-oil GDP growth in the GCC countries and the surge in the GCC countries’ hiring of migrant workers from South Asia during 2006–08. The remittances-to-GDP ratio in South Asia and the Philippines are likely to remain robust in the near term.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
Trade policy occupies an unusual and at times problematic place in the work of the IMF. Though trade policies of IMF members have strong influences on macroeconomic stability, they are often seen as peripheral to the IMF’s core competency. This evaluation, which examines the IMF’s involvement in trade policy issues during 1996–2007, addresses five questions. What is the nature of the IMF’s mandate to cover trade policy? Did the IMF work effectively with other international organizations on trade policy issues? Did the Executive Board provide clear guidance to staff on the IMF’s role and approach to trade policy? How well did the IMF address trade policy issues through lending arrangements and surveillance? Was IMF advice effective? The evaluation finds that the IMF’s role in trade policy has evolved in some desirable and some less desirable ways and recommends how to use the limited resources the IMF can devote to trade policy to fill these gaps.
This paper argues that, in improving the efficient allocation of resources, financial sector development could dampen the appreciation effect of capital inflows. Using dynamic panel data techniques, the paper finds that the exchange rate appreciation effect of FDI inflows is indeed attenuated when financial and capital markets are larger and more active. The main implication of these results is that one of the main dangers associated with large capital inflows in emerging markets-the destabilization of macroeconomic management due to a sizeable appreciation of the real exchange rate-can be mitigated partly by developing a deep financial sector.
This Selected Issues paper on Bangladesh reviews institutional developments in the foreign exchange market since 2002. In 2002, there have been several aspects of the financial system and exchange market in Bangladesh that posed impediments to a floating exchange rate system. The financial system has been dominated by state-owned commercial banks with assets amounting to about 24 percent of GDP and accounting for some 46 percent of industry net assets. Market interventions have been largely confined to building foreign exchange reserves and to countering rare disorderly market conditions.
This Selected Issues paper on Sri Lanka underlies the dynamics of growth and external competitiveness. The slowdown in the contribution of sectors that are labor intensive, together with faster growth in sectors that are capital intensive and have higher productivity levels, resulted in total factor productivity (TFP) as the main contributor to growth. Sri Lanka’s strong growth performance has brought positive benefits to the economy and has benefited from a high quality labor force. The labor productivity is low by regional standards and the internal terms of trade are skewed toward the nontraded sector.
This paper creates the first dataset of bilateral remittance flows for a limited set of developing countries and estimates a gravity model for workers' remittances. We find that most of the variation in bilateral remittance flows can be explained by a few gravity variables. The evidence on the motives to remit is mixed, but altruism may be less of a factor than commonly believed. Most strikingly, remittances do not seem to increase in the wake of a natural disaster and appear aligned with the business cycle in the home country, suggesting that remittances may not play a major role in limiting vulnerability to shocks. To encourage remittances and maximize their economic impact, policies should be directed at reducing transaction costs, promoting financial sector development, and improving the business climate.
The member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation have set as a target the achievement of an economic union by 2020. Reaching this goal will require greater levels of monetary cooperation. How should this be achieved? Data from South Asia suggest that member states have minor trade linkages and face asymmetrical patterns of shocks. This paper concludes that, absent a clear road map for monetary cooperation, the present process must be structured so as to be harmonized with the level of regional economic integration.