General finance sector; General industry and trade sector; Banking; Capital markets
Summary: To regain the strong growth it had before the global crisis, South Asia will have to manage a combination of persistent external economic headwinds and increasing regional macroeconomic and structural vulnerabilities. Macroeconomic policies to tackle the adverse effects of the global downturn have left the South Asian countries with weaker fiscal and monetary options to stimulate growth today. With the exception of Afghanistan, economic growth across other South Asian countries- Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka-has been moderating or stagnating. In Bangladesh, with export and investment growth slowing, Gross Domestic product (GDP) growth is likely to fall to around 6 percent in FY2013/14, down from 6.3 percent in FY2012/13. Over the same period, Bhutan saw its growth rate decline from almost 9 percent to 7.6 percent. India's economy slowed significantly. As a result, growth of a subdued 3 percent is expected in FY2012/13, down from 4.6 percent in FY2011/12. A significant drop in the region's exports and fixed investment are primarily responsible for South Asia's growth moderation. Private consumption remained stable, helped by resilient remittance flows, and is expected to only pick up slowly due to effects of persistent inflation, fiscal consolidation and slow recovery in disposable income. The overall real effective exchange rate depreciation across South Asia reflects weak economic fundamentals. International reserves fell below critical levels of two months of import coverage in Pakistan and one month in Maldives, reflecting the two countries' difficult external situations. During the first eight months of FY2012/13, Pakistan's net international reserves fell to 1.8 months, down from 2.6 months in the previous fiscal year.
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