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Global Economic Prospects – January 2018 – Economic outlook for the South Asia region

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Recent developments
In South Asia, growth slowed to an estimated 6.5
percent in 2017, marginally below the June 2017
forecast owing to temporary disruptions from
adverse weather conditions across the region and,
in India, businesses’ adjustment to the newly
introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Domestic demand continued to drive growth,
with strong private consumption and a public
infrastructure spending push in India while net
exports subtracted slightly from GDP growth.
Elevated credit growth continued to support
investment in some countries (e.g., Bangladesh,
Pakistan).
In India, growth slowed for the fifth consecutive
quarter to 5.7 percent (year-on-year) in the first
quarter of FY2017/18 (April-June 2017), partly
reflecting adjustments by businesses to the
prospective introduction of the GST in July 2017.
In addition, protracted balance sheet weaknesses—
in particular, a corporate debt overhang and
elevated non-performing loans in the banking
sector—continued to weigh on already weak
private investment (World Bank 2017y). Weak
private investment was only partly mitigated by a
public infrastructure investment push and a surge
in current expenditures after recent public pay
hikes. In the second quarter of FY2017/18 (July-
September 2017), the slowdown in economic
activity bottomed out by a still weak 6.3 percent
(year-on-year) growth. The manufacturing
Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) and industrial
production growth remained broadly expansionary
after they temporarily weakened as producers
reduced inventories amid uncertainty relating to
the implementation of the GST (Figure 2.5.1).
Despite a recent uptick, inflation remained within
the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) target band of
2-6 percent, following a steady decline over the
past year to 1.3 percent in July amid weak food
prices. Fiscal consolidation has continued in the
central government, but subnational fiscal deficits
have risen, partly reflecting debt payments taken
over through Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana
(UDAY) and a broader shift in public expenditures
from central to state governments, and
recent public pay hikes.1
In Pakistan, growth continued to accelerate in
FY2016/17 (July-June) to 5.3 percent, somewhat
below the government’s target of 5.7 percent as
industrial sector growth was slower than expected.
Activity was strong in construction and services,
and there was a recovery in agricultural production
with a return of normal monsoon rains. In the
first half of FY2017/18, activity has continued to
expand, driven by robust domestic demand
supported by strong credit growth and investment
Note: This section was prepared by Temel Taskin. Research
assistance was provided by Anh Mai Bui, Ishita Dugar, and Jinxin
Wu.
In South Asia, growth slowed to a still strong 6.5 percent in 2017, below the June forecast, in part reflecting
adjustment in India to the new Goods and Services Tax and the adverse impact of natural disasters across the
region. Growth is expected to stabilize around 7 percent a year over 2018-2020, with private consumption
remaining strong and investment recovered by infrastructure projects and reforms. Main risks to the outlook
include setbacks in reviving investment, fiscal slippages, and disruptions to activity resulting from natural
disasters.
1 UDAY is a financial turnaround and operational improvement
program for power sector in India. It was approved by the
Government of India on November 5, 2015.
CHAPTER 2.4 GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS 128 | JANUARY 2018
m anufacturing and services sectors. Robust private
consumption was complemented by strong public
investment growth.
In Sri Lanka, activity expanded at an estimated 4.1
percent in 2017, below the June forecast as a result
of disruptions from droughts and floods. Despite
monetary policy tightening to ease inflationary
pressures in the first half of 2017, credit growth
remained strong, supporting private consumption
and investment.
Elsewhere in the region, activity in 2017 was
underpinned by strong construction in Bhutan
and the Maldives as large-scale infrastructure
projects were implemented. In Nepal, floods in
more than one-third of the country disrupted the
strong post-earthquake recovery in the second half
of 2017. Security concerns continued to weigh on
activity in Afghanistan, with the number of
civilian casualties and displaced people reaching
record levels in 2017.
Inflation has been well below its historical average
in the region, except for a drought-related
temporary rise in 2017 in Sri Lanka. Outside
India, fiscal consolidation slowed in 2017 as a
result of revenue shortfalls and increased
government spending (e.g., Maldives, Pakistan).
Current account deficits gradually widened across
the region (e.g., India, Bangladesh, Pakistan).
Balance sheet weakness for corporates (e.g., India)
and financial sectors (e.g., Bangladesh, India)
continued to weigh on private investment. In
particular, non-performing loan ratios remained
high, at around 10 percent, despite progress in
some countries (e.g., Maldives, Pakistan,
Afghanistan).
Outlook
The region’s growth prospects appear robust, with
household consumption expected to remain
strong, exports expected to recover, and
investment projected to revive with the support of
policy reforms and infrastructure improvements
(Figure 2.5.2). Growth in the region is expected to
pick up to 6.9 percent in 2018, and stabilize
around 7.2 percent over the medium term, but
remain slightly below June projections due to the
weaker-than-expected recovery in domestic
FIGURE 2.5.1 SAR: Recent developments
Credit growth has remained broadly robust and has supported investment
in the region. Exports have picked up amid stronger global demand.
Purchasing Manager Surveys suggest strengthening activity, especially in
manufacturing. Inflation rates are below historical averages. Progress in
fiscal consolidation has been mixed.
A. Credit to private sector B. Exports
C. Purchasing Managers’ Index of D. Industrial production
India
Sources: Haver Analytics, World Bank.
A. 2017 data represent average year-on-year growth. Last observation is October 2017 for
Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, and November 2017 for Sri Lanka.
B. Last observation is Q3 2017.
C. Index values higher than 50 indicate expansion. Last observation is November 2017.
D. Last observation is October 2017 for India and Sri Lanka, and September 2017 for Pakistan.
E. Last observation is November 2017 for India and Pakistan, and October 2017 for Bangladesh
and Sri Lanka. Due to lack of data, average for Bangladesh is 2009-17 and average for Sri Lanka
is 2015-17.
F. 2017 data are estimated values.
E. Inflation F. Fiscal balances
projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic
Corridor. Meanwhile, the current account deficit
widened to 4.1 percent of GDP compared to 1.7
percent last year, amid weak exports and buoyant
imports.
Bangladesh’s growth in FY2016/17 (July-June)
was 7.2 percent, exceeding the June forecast owing
to higher-than-expected outturns in the
GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS | JANUARY 2018 SOUTH ASIA 129
F IGURE 2.5.2 SAR: Outlook and risks
Growth in the region is forecast to pick up to 6.9 percent in 2018, and
stabilize around 7 percent a year over the medium term. Domestic demand
will continue to be the main driver of the growth in the region. Nonperforming
loans remain high in South Asia.
A. Growth B. Growth in remittance inflows
C. Contributions to growth in SAR D. Non-performing loans
Sources: Haver Analytics, International Monetary Fund, World Bank.
A. Shaded area indicates forecasts.
B. Last observation is 2016.
C. SAR = South Asia Region. Shaded area indicates forecasts.
D. Last observation is 2015 for Bhutan and Bangladesh, and 2016 for the others.
demand (World Bank 2017e). The forecast
assumes strengthening external demand as the
recovery firms in advanced economies, and
supportive global financing conditions. Monetary
policy is assumed to remain accommodative as
modest fiscal consolidation proceeds in some
countries (e.g., India).
India’s GDP is forecast to grow 6.7 percent in
FY2017/18, below June projections due to shortterm
disruptions from the newly introduced GST.
Growth will pick up to 7.3 percent in 2018/19,
and to 7.5 percent a year in the medium term.
Strong private consumption and services are
expected to continue to support economic activity.
Private investment is expected to revive as the
corporate sector adjusts to the GST; infrastructure
spending increases, partly to improve public
services and internet connectivity; and private
sector balance sheet weaknesses are mitigated with
the help of the efforts of the government and the
Reserve Bank of India (RBI 2017). Over the
medium term, the GST is expected to benefit
economic activity and fiscal sustainability by
reducing the cost of complying with multiple state
tax systems, drawing informal activity into the
formal sector, and expanding the tax base.2 The
recent recapitalization package for public sector
banks announced by the Government of India is
expected to help resolve banking sector balance
sheets, support credit to the private sector, and lift
investment.3 The global trade recovery is expected
to lift exports.
Growth in the region excluding India is expected
to remain stable at an average 5.9 percent a year
over the medium term, broadly consistent with
the June projections, as domestic demand remains
robust and exports recover. In Pakistan, growth is
forecast to pick up to 5.5 percent in FY2017/18,
and reach at an average 5.9 percent a year over the
medium term on the back of continued robust
domestic consumption, rising investment, and a
recovery in exports. Activity in Bangladesh will
grow at an average of 6.7 percent a year over
FY2018-2020, benefiting from strong domestic
demand and strengthening exports. Low interest
rates and improved infrastructure are expected to
lift investment. Remittances are expected to
rebound as the growth firms in Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) countries and support private
consumption.
Growth in Sri Lanka is forecast to average 5.1
percent a year over 2018-2020, mainly reflecting
strong private consumption and investment
growth. Exports will be supported by the
reinstatement of the Generalised Scheme of
Preferences (GSP+) with the European Union.
Elsewhere in the region, Bhutan’s GDP is
expected to expand 6.7 percent in FY2017/18 and
reach an average 7.6 percent a year toward 2020,
supported by hydropower-related construction
and policies supporting the private sector, such as
2 A more detailed discussion on the policies to lift growth over the
medium-to-long-term growth is provided in Box 2.5.1 and Chapter 3.
3 The Government of India announced a large recapitalization
program ($ 32 billon) for public sector banks in October. The
program is expected to be implemented within two years and planned
to be financed by recapitalization bonds and budget support.
CHAPTER 2.4 GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS 130 | JANUARY 2018
i mproving the ease of doing business, supporting
research and development, promoting publicprivate
partnerships in infrastructure projects, and
improving access to skilled labor (RGOB 2016).
Activity in Maldives is forecast to expand by 4.9
percent a year, on average, over the medium term,
mainly driven by strong construction, tourism,
and FDI inflows. In Nepal, growth is expected to
settle at 4.5 percent a year, on average, in the
medium term as post-earthquake reconstruction
winds down. Growth in Afghanistan is forecast at
3.4 percent in 2018 to and average around 3.1
percent a year over the medium term, assuming no
further deterioration in the security situation.
Risks
The main risks to the outlook are domestic,
including fiscal slippages (e.g., Bangladesh,
Maldives, Pakistan), setbacks to reforms to resolve
corporate and financial sector balance sheet
deterioration (e.g. Bangladesh, India), disruptions
due to natural disasters, and persistent security
challenges weakening domestic demand (e.g.,
Afghanistan). As an external risk, an abrupt
tightening of global financing conditions or a
sudden rise in financial market volatility could set
back regional growth. On the other hand, stronger
-than-expected global growth could benefit the
more open economies in the region in the near
term (Chapter 1).
Increasing contingent liabilities related to
infrastructure projects (e.g., Pakistan), debt writeoffs
for farmers (e.g., India), and slippages relating
to upcoming elections and weak tax revenues (e.g.,
Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan) could derail fiscal
consolidation efforts. Weaker debt sustainability
could weigh on confidence, financial markets and
already-weak investment (World Bank 2017z).
Corporate debt overhangs and high levels of nonperforming
loans have been long-standing
concerns in some countries (e.g. Bangladesh,
India). Setbacks in efforts to resolve these
domestic bottlenecks would continue to weigh on
investment, and more broadly on medium-term
growth prospects in the region.
Recent adverse weather conditions have reduced
agricultural output in some cases (e.g. Nepal, Sri
Lanka). Such developments continue to pose risks
to regional growth (World Bank 2017e, 2017ac).
Recently, remittance inflows have been subdued
due to fiscal consolidation and growth slowdowns
in the Middle East, which constitutes roughly half
of remittances to South Asia. A protracted
slowdown in remittance inflows would weigh on
domestic consumption (e.g., Bangladesh, Sri
Lanka; World Bank 2017ac).
GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS | JANUARY 2018 SOUTH ASIA 131
TABLE 2.5.1 South Asia forecast summary
(Real GDP growth at market prices in percent, unless indicated otherwise)
Source: World Bank.
Notes: e = estimate; f = forecast. EMDE = emerging market and developing economy. World Bank forecasts are frequently updated based on new information and changing (global)
circumstances. Consequently, projections presented here may differ from those contained in other Bank documents, even if basic assessments of countries’ prospects do not differ at any
given moment in time.
1. GDP at market prices and expenditure components are measured in constant 2010 U.S. dollars.
2. National income and product account data refer to fiscal years (FY) for the South Asian countries, while aggregates are presented in calendar year (CY) terms. The fiscal year runs from
July 1 through June 30 in Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Pakistan, from July 16 through July 15 in Nepal, and April 1 through March 31 in India.
3. Sub-region aggregate excludes Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Maldives, for which data limitations prevent the forecasting of GDP components.
4. Exports and imports of goods and non-factor services (GNFS).
For additional information, please see www.worldbank.org/gep.
2015 2016 2017e 2018f 2019f 2020f 2017e 2018f 2019f
EMDE South Asia, GDP1, 2 7.1 7.5 6.5 6.9 7.2 7.2 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1
(Average including countries with full national accounts and balance of payments data only)3
EMDE South Asia, GDP3 7.1 7.5 6.6 6.9 7.1 7.2 -0.2 -0.2 -0.2
GDP per capita (U.S. dollars) 5.8 6.2 5.3 5.7 5.9 6.0 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1
PPP GDP 7.1 7.5 6.6 6.9 7.1 7.2 -0.2 -0.2 -0.2
Private consumption 5.4 8.4 7.3 7.1 7.0 6.9 0.6 0.2 -0.1
Public consumption 2.6 13.8 12.0 11.3 9.5 9.6 -0.3 -0.5 -0.7
Fixed investment 5.5 4.7 5.9 7.5 8.5 9.1 0.0 0.2 0.5
Exports, GNFS4
-5.2 1.2 5.0 5.8 6.6 6.7 -1.0 -0.5 0.4
Imports, GNFS4
-4.0 0.3 5.3 5.1 5.7 5.8 0.9 -0.8 -0.6
Net exports, contribution to growth -0.1 0.2 -0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.0 -0.5 0.1 0.3
Memo items: GDP2 15/16 16/17 17/18e 18/19f 19/20f 20/21f 17/18e 18/19f 19/20f
South Asia excluding India 5 . 4 5.7 5.7 5.8 5.9 6.0 0.0 0.0 -0.1
India 8.0 7.1 6.7 7.3 7.5 7.5 -0.5 -0.1 -0.2
Pakistan (factor cost) 4.5 5.3 5.5 5.8 6.0 6.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Bangladesh 7.1 7.2 6.4 6.7 6.7 6.7 0.0 0.0 -0.3
(Real GDP growth at market prices in percent, unless indicated otherwise)
2015 2016 2017e 2018f 2019f 2020f 2017e 2018f 2019f
Calendar year basis 1
Afghanistan 1.1 2.2 2.6 3.4 3.1 3.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Maldives 3.3 4.7 4.8 4.9 5.0 5.0 0.3 0.3 0.4
Sri Lanka 4.8 4.4 4.1 5.0 5.1 5.1 -0.6 0.0 0.0
Fiscal year basis1
15/16 16/17 17/18e 18/19f 19/20f 20/21f 17/18f 18/19f 19/20f
Bangladesh 7.1 7.2 6.4 6.7 6.7 6.7 0.0 0.0 -0.3
Bhutan 6.6 8.0 6.7 6.9 7.6 7.6 -0.1 -0.8 -2.9
India 8.0 7.1 6.7 7.3 7.5 7.5 -0.5 -0.1 -0.2
Nepal 0.4 7.5 4.6 4.5 4.5 4.5 -0.9 0.0 0.0
Pakistan (factor cost) 4.5 5.3 5.5 5.8 6.0 6.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
TABLE 2.5.2 South Asia country forecasts
Source: World Bank.
Notes: e = estimate; f = forecast. World Bank forecasts are frequently updated based on new information and changing (global) circumstances. Consequently, projections presented here
may differ from those contained in other Bank documents, even if basic assessments of countries’ prospects do not differ at any given moment in time.
1. Historical data is reported on a market price basis. National income and product account data refer to fiscal years (FY) for the South Asian countries with the exception of Afghanistan,
Maldives, and Sri Lanka, which report in calendar year (CY). The fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30 in Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Pakistan, from July 16 through July 15 in Nepal,
and April 1 through March 31 in India.
For additional information, please see www.worldbank.org/gep.
Percentage point differences
from June 2017 projections
Percentage point differences
from June 2017 projections
CHAPTER 2.4 GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS 132 | JANUARY 2018
BOX 2.5.1 Potential growth in South Asia
Potential growth in South Asia has slowed from around 7.2 percent just prior to the global financial crisis to an average of 6.8
percent in recent years, reflecting the effects of a sharp investment slowdown. Over the medium-term, South Asia’s potential
growth is expected to stabilize around 6.7 percent. Achieving faster sustained growth will require structural reforms such as
improving human capital, enhancing female labor force participation, strengthening corporate and banking sector balance sheets,
and promoting greater integration of the region into global and regional value chains.
Introduction
Although South Asia was the fastest growing emerging
market and developing economy (EMDE) region in recent
years, it still slowed compared with the rapid pace set prior
to the global financial crisis (Figure 2.5.1.1). This
slowdown was mainly driven by stalled investment in
India, and it appears also to reflect a more broad-based
easing of potential growth within the region, from 7.2
percent pre-crisis to around 6.8 percent. Other studies
have estimated potential growth in the region. In the case
of India, potential growth is estimated within the range of
6-8 percent in the post-crisis period (Bhoi and Behera
2016; Mishra 2013; Blagrave et al. 2015). Similarly, Ding
et al. (2014) estimate Sri Lanka’s potential growth between
6 and 8 percent after the global financial crisis.1 Looking
forward, achieving faster sustained growth in the region,
with a corresponding improvement in living standards,
FIGURE 2.5.1.1 Regional growth
The slowdown of regional GDP growth in recent years has coincided with a decline in potential growth, which has mainly
reflected weak investment.
Sources: Haver Analytics, Penn World Tables, World Bank Estimates, and World Development Indicators.
A. C.-F. Blue bars show GDP-weighted average of SAR countries. Markers show median GDP-weighted averages of the six EMDE regions and vertical lines denote
range of regional GDP-weighted averages.
B. Potential growth estimates based on production function approach for India and Sri Lanka. See Annex 3.1 for more details.
A. Actual GDP growth B. Potential growth decomposition
D. Potential TFP growth
C. Investment growth
E. Education attainment, secondary F. Working age population growth
completion
1 This estimate does not reflect the GDP revision of 2015, and might
be biased upward.
Note: This box was prepared by Temel Taskin, Sinem Kilic Celik,
and Yirbehogre Modeste Some. Anh Mai Bui, Jinxin Wu, and Ishita
Dugar provided research assistance.
GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS | JANUARY 2018 SOUTH ASIA 133
will require identifying and addressing the structural
factors that are constraining the region’s potential.
Against this backdrop, this Box will discuss the following
questions:
• How has potential growth evolved in South Asia and
what were its main drivers?
• What are prospects for potential growth?
• What are the policy options to lift potential growth?
This Box concludes that, in the absence of policy action,
South Asia’s potential growth is likely to remain broadly
steady at its current rate. However, there is scope to boost
the region’s potential growth significantly through product
and labor market reforms as well as through investment in
human capital.
Evolution of potential growth and its drivers
Estimates based on the analysis in Chapter 3 suggest that
the decline in potential growth in South Asia reflected
slowing capital accumulation which outweighed the
acceleration in TFP growth and improved educational
attainment. A number of factors appear to have been at
work, including heightened regulatory and policy
uncertainties, delayed project approvals and
implementation, continued bottlenecks in the energy
sector, as well as reform setbacks (Anand et al. 2014).
Large corporate debt overhang and non-performing assets
in the banking sector further weighed on credit growth
and investment within the region.
Potential growth prospects
Over the medium-term, potential growth in South Asia is
expected to average around 6.7 percent in the next decade.
Although this would be well below the high rates achieved
just before the global financial crisis, it compares favorably
with other EMDEs, where potential growth is expected to
slow even further (Figure 2.5.1.2).
Potential growth in South Asia will be underpinned
mainly by a recovery in Total Factor Productivity (TFP)—
in part owing to the effects of improvements in
educational attainment, which will help offset a
moderation in the growth of the working age population,
similar to other EMDEs where aging already weighs
heavily on potential growth.
BOX 2.5.1 Potential growth in South Asia (continued)
FIGURE 2.5.1.2 Regional potential growth
estimates
South Asia’s potential growth has slowed from around
7.2 percent just prior to the global financial crisis to an
average of 6.8 percent in recent years, according to the
baseline measure (production function).
Source: World Bank estimates.
Notes: Lines and bars denote averages of different periods.
A. Based on the production function approach for India and Sri Lanka,
as defined in Annex 3.1.
B. MVF stands for multivariate filter-based potential growth estimates; UVF
stands for univariate filter-based potential growth estimates (specifically,
the Hodrick-Prescott filter); Expectations stands for potential growth proxied
by five-year-ahead World Economic Outlook growth forecasts. Sample
includes India and Sri Lanka in the PF estimates, India in the MVF and UVF
estimates and India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives,
Bhutan, and Afghanistan in the Expectations.
A. Potential growth
B. Regional potential growth by different estimates
CHAPTER 2.4 GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS 134 | JANUARY 2018
India’s recent reforms, such as the “Make in India”
initiative and demonetization, are expected to encourage
formal sector activity, broaden the tax base, and improve
long-term growth prospects despite short term disruptions
in the case of demonetization. For instance, the “Make in
India” initiative, which began in late-2014, aims to
improve investment and innovation as well as develop
skills to meet the demand for skilled labor. To achieve
these goals, the government has taken various steps to
improve the business climate, such as shortening approval
times for trademarks and patents to enhance property right
protection, lowering restrictions on foreign direct
investment (including foreign ownership restrictions) in
various sectors, and accelerating investment in energy and
transport infrastructure, which helped improve the ease of
doing business (World Bank 2017l).
The July 2017 introduction of the Goods and Services Tax
(GST) in India has caused temporary disruptions in
manufacturing, and is linked to the recent weakness in the
Purchasing Managers’ Index and industrial production
growth. However, eventually, it is expected to simplify tax
compliance, deepen economic linkages between Indian
states, broaden the tax base and improve revenue
collections. In turn, this is expected to enhance the broader
business environment and help foster investment and
employment (IMF 2017).
Significant vulnerabilities have been recognized in the
Indian banking and corporate sectors that may weigh on
medium-to-long-term growth prospects unless they are
addressed. Encouragingly, several steps have been taken on
this front. For example, the Asset Quality Review initiated
by the RBI in 2015 has led to an increase in the
recognition of non-performing assets on financial sector
balance sheets. More recently, the government announced
a large recapitalization package ($ 32 billion) for public
sector banks to be implemented over two years. Over the
medium to long term, these measures are expected to help
resolve private sector balance sheet weaknesses and unlock
lending for private investment. Infrastructure spending in
recent years partly addressed supply side bottlenecks.
However, weaknesses on corporate balance sheets remain
as firms are highly indebted. As corporate lending still
accounts for a significant part of banks’ assets, their ability
to finance future business investments will require the
restructuring of this debt, as well as a broader deleveraging
in the corporate sector.
Sri Lanka’s economic reform agenda, supported by World
Bank and IMF programs, is expected to sustain
BOX 2.5.1 Potential growth in South Asia (continued)
FIGURE 2.5.1.3 Policies to stem declining
potential growth
Potential growth in South Asia is expected to average
around 6.7 percent between 2018-27, slightly below its
recent average rate. Labor market, education, and
health reforms, along with investment, could boost the
region’s potential growth by 0.4 percentage points.
Source: World Bank estimates.
Notes: GDP weighted averages. Derived using the production function
approach for India and Sri Lanka. Details are described in Annex 3.1.
A. “Other factors” reflects declining population growth, trend improvements
in human capital, and a slowdown in investment growth to output growth.
B. Policy scenarios are described in Annex 3.1.
A. Baseline potential growth
B. Potential growth under reform scenarios
GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS | JANUARY 2018 SOUTH ASIA 135
BOX 2.5.1 Potential growth in South Asia (concluded)
macroeconomic stability and support potential growth
over the medium term (World Bank 2017ab). Public debt
is expected to decline amid ongoing fiscal consolidation,
which will open fiscal space and enable the country to
allocate public spending toward human capital
investments that support potential growth. The
government recently adopted the new Inland Revenue
Act, which aims to simplify tax compliance, but which
could also mobilize additional revenue that could support
growth-enhancing spending, including infrastructure
investment.
Policy options to lift potential growth
As illustrated in Chapter 3, structural reforms can provide
a significant boost to productivity, employment, and
potential growth. Indeed, this analysis illustrates that steps
to reform labor markets, as well as education and health
systems, and policies to encourage private sector
investment could boost potential growth. (Figure
2.5.1.3).
One area that could encourage higher private investment
in South Asia would be steps to enhance its integration in
global value chains. Studies show that this has been
associated with higher growth, but South Asia region lags
behind other EMDE regions in terms of the integration of
its trade and investment flows, both globally and within
the region (Farole and Pathikonda 2016). Closer trade
and investment ties could be supported by closing
infrastructure gaps, removing regulatory and other
impediments to businesses, as well as by promoting a shift
towards higher-value added manufacturing industries
(Lopez Acevedo and Robertson 2016).
Addressing corporate and banking sector balance sheet
issues could lift investment and potential growth prospects
in the region. Recent steps taken by the government such
as the recapitalization package for public sector banks are
expected to support credit growth and investment.
Investment in human capital may also help lift
productivity, labor incomes, and potential output,
including by fostering a shift toward higher-value added
and innovative industries (Aturupane et al. 2014). Policies
that can help facilitate this shift include steps to improve
the share the participation of women in the workforce,
increase access to higher and better education, and
investing in vocational training programs (World Bank
2017p).
GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS | JANUARY 2018 CHAPTER 2 149
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———. 2016h. “Azerbaijan - Public Investment
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———. 2016l. “Africa Region: Sustaining Growth and
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———. 2017b. “Closing the Gap.” Indonesia Economic
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———. 2017c. “Preserving Consistency and Policy
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———. 2017d. “Sustaining Resilience.” East Asia and
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CHAPTER 2 GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS 156 | JANUARY 2018
— ——. 2017e. Global Economic Prospects: A Fragile
Recovery. June. Washington, DC: World Bank.
———. 2017f. “Digital Transformation.” Thailand
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———. 2017g. Pacific Possible: Long-term Economic
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———. 2017h. “Sustaining Resilience.” East Asia and
Pacific Economic Update. Washington, DC: World
Bank.
———. 2017i. “Balancing Act.” East Asia and Pacific
Economic Update. Washington, DC: World Bank.
———. 2017j. World Development Report 2017:
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DC: World Bank.
———. 2017k. Global Investment Competitiveness
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Policy Implications. Washington, DC: World Bank.
———. 2017l. Doing Business 2018: Reforming to
Create Jobs. Washington, DC: World Bank.
———. 2017m. Kazakhstan — The Economy is Rising:
It is Still All About Oil. Fall. Washington, DC: World
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———. 2017n. Russia Economic Review. Fall.
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———. 2017o. Western Balkans Regular Economic
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———. 2017p. Global Economic Prospects: Weak
Investment in Uncertain Times. January. Washington,
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———. 2017q. “Commodity Markets Outlook.”
October. World Bank, Washington, DC.
———. 2017r. “The Western Balkans: Revving up the
Engines of Growth and Prosperity.” World Bank,
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———. 2017s. “Migration and Mobility.” Europe and
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———. 2017t. “Migration and Remittances: Recent
Developments and Outlook.” Migration and
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———. 2017u. “Refugee Crisis in MENA. Meeting
the Development Challenge.” MENA Economic
Monitor. Washington, DC: World Bank.
———. 2017v. “Sustaining Fiscal Reforms in the Long
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———. 2017w. “The Economics of Post-Conflict
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———. 2017x. “Jobs for North Lebanon: Value
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———. 2017y. India Development Update.
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———. 2017z. “Growth out of the Blue.” South Asia
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———. 2017aa. “Economic Impact of Floods.” India
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———. 2017ab. “Creating Opportunities and
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———. 2017ac. “Towards More, Better and Inclusive
Jobs.” Bangladesh Development Update. Washington,
DC: World Bank.
———. 2017ad. “Creating Opportunities and
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———. 2017ae. “Innovation for Productivity and
Inclusiveness.” South Africa Economic Update.
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———. 2017af. “Africa’s Pulse.” Volume 15. World
Bank, Washington, DC.
———. 2017ag. “Africa’s Pulse.” Volume 16,
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———. 2017ah. World Development Indicators 2017.
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World Economic Forum. 2017. Global Economic
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Economic Forum.

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