South Asia: The New In­vest­ment Hub?

Southasia - - Editor’s mail -

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

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