South Asia: The New Investment Hub?
Your cover story on investment in South Asia was interesting to read as it adopted a dual approach: investigating investment within SAARC as well as investment making its way into the region. The region seems to be handicapped by its archaic business regulations, lack of transparency and the overarching, permeating corruption that essentially plagues the entire process. Major hurdles such as these do little to boost investor confidence. South Asia undoubtedly has much to offer in terms of natural resources, labor, expertise and potential. However, much more needs to be done to enhance business practices and convince international executives to invest in sectors that yield high profits thus benefitting both parties. FDI is a major source of income for South Asian countries and while Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India have taken advantage of this practice, Afghanistan and Pakistan lag behind, primarily due to their political instability that does not bode well for business practices. Intra-SAARC trade on the other hand has higher potential to succeed and can be executed fairly quickly. The proximity of the countries, the comparative advantage over certain products and services and the common business practices are links of opportunities that must not be underestimated. Should South Asia establish itself as a flourishing, functioning and prosperous hub of investment, it will automatically attract greater FDI and begin its transformation in the next global, economic hub.
Mumtaz Ahmed Dhaka, Bangladesh