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ISLAMABAD: The first phase of the Turkmenistan– Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Natural Gas Pipeline project is planned to be launched in 2021, says the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The ADB in its latest report, “Asian Economic Integration Report 2021” stated that the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation’s large regional energy and infrastructure projects have been on track including the flagship Turkmenistan–Uzbekistan–Tajikistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan Power Interconnection Framework and Central Asia–South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project.

The ADB is also implementing a technical assistance (TA) project to support the government of Pakistan on economic corridor planning to reap expanded regional cooperation and integration benefits, it added.

The report further noted that the health and socioeconomic impact of the pandemic and virus containment measures are hurting cross-border migration.

Migrants from top source countries in Asia—including India, the PRC, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the Philippines — were hit hard while job and income losses had dire consequences for their families back home.

The region’s export volume barely grew at 0.05 percent in 2019, a significant drop from the 2018 growth rate of 3.5 percent.

Most major exporter economies in Asia had either negative or decelerating growth rates.

Those with negative growth rates included Hong Kong, China (–7.3 percent); Indonesia (–3.3percent); Thailand (–3.0percent); Japan (–1.9percent); Malaysia (–2.0percent); the Republic of Korea (–1.8percent); and Singapore (–3.0percent).

The Liberalization Quality Indicator captures the openness of an economy to foreign investment, or, conversely, the degree of control maintained by a state over foreign investment.

The indicator is based on the coding of three provisions related to entry: the regulation of foreign investment entry (admission clause), the regulation of transfer of investment-related funds out of the host state, and the presence of non-economic standards.

The index provides a proxy for an economy’s stance on the FDI capital transfers (equity, reinvested earnings, or profit shifting) and long-term capital movements.

Results suggest that economies with a low score (ie, Myanmar, the PRC, and Viet Nam) tend to have a more restrictive approach toward foreign investors, whereas economies with a high score (eg, Vanuatu, India, and Pakistan) are more open to foreign investment, the report noted.

Asia’s largest source of remittances remains the Middle East—the inflows of $100.4 billion in 2019, 5.3 percent ($5.0 billion) more than in 2018.

Almost all outflows went to two Asian sub-regions, South Asia (82.3 percent) and Southeast Asia (17.4 percent)—around 50 percent (about 21 million) of migrants from South Asia and 20 percent (about four million) from Southeast Asia reside in the Middle East.

India, Pakistan, and the Philippines received a total of $76.6 billion, equivalent to 76.3 percent of Middle East outflows to Asia and 53.1 percent of its outflows worldwide. Year-to-date remittances in the second quarter (Q2) of 2020 grew in India (3.5 percent y-o-y) and Pakistan (8.8 percent), suggesting the pandemic had not affected remittance-sending behavior.

Growth in internet retailing has been robust across Asian economies.

Growth has accelerated in recent years in a number of Asian countries.

Notably, the share of foreign retailing sales has grown at a faster pace across geographic clusters in the past few years.

Compounded annualised growth is highest in Pakistan, while the share of foreign internet retailing in Uzbekistan tops the region.

The range of internet retailing sales-to GDP ratios in 2018 remains wide, i.e., between 20 percent and less than 0.02 percent.

The report further noted that from 2017 to 2020, the share of workers in creative and multimedia has increased by 34 percent in Bangladesh and by 40 percent in Indonesia.

To date, it accounts for around 59 percent of Bangladesh’s online workforce and 74 percent in Indonesia’s.

In the Philippines, creative and multimedia online workers share the bulk of online employment (47 percent) while its share is 31 percent in Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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