— South Asia taking lead in GDP growth relative to East Asia
— Regional GDP growth forecast 6.8% and 7.1% in 2017 and 2018
— Bangladesh’s growth to be sustained at 6.8% in 2017, forecast at 6.4% in 2018
South Asia remains the fastest-growing region in the world with Bangladesh sustaining growth at 6.8 percent in 2017, gradually widening its lead relative to East Asia, according to a latest report of World Bank.
Regional GDP growth of South Asia is expected to rise from 6.7 percent in 2016 to 6.8 percent in 2017, and 7.1 percent in 2018, according to the report.
The economy of Bangladesh, the WB report said, has weathered global uncertainties well aided by strengthening investment and a recovery of exports.
For Bangladesh, growth will be sustained at 6.8 percent in 2017, coming slightly down from 7.1 percent in 2016, which was the highest in the region and “with a decelerating information rate and a budget deficit that has narrowed”, according to the report.
For Fiscal 2018 and 2019, Bangladesh’s GDP growth is forecast at 6.4 percent and 6.7 percent respectively, according to the World Bank report.
Infrastructure gaps and inadequate energy supply, combined with the high cost of doing business, remain the main obstacles to the realisation of Bangladesh’s growth potential.
Among the South Asian countries, Nepal fared the worst with an estimated growth of 0.6 percent in 2016, it said.
The country’s economic activity however is recovering with its GDP growth expected to rebound to 6.0 percent this year on the back of increased agriculture output, increased availability of electricity, and greater investment as the earthquake reconstruction gathers speed, added the report.
“Simulations on the impact of hypothetical new trade barriers show that South Asia is not only resilient to a potential rise in protectionism but could possibly even gain from it in some circumstances,” said Annette Dixon, vice president of the Bank’s South Asia region.