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S Asia economies may emerge as Asian tigers

Led by India and Pakistan, South Asia has registered a higher growth than its peers, says an ADB report.

india Updated: Oct 19, 2006 11:49 IST

Improved governance, better quality of infrastructure and impressive growth rates could propel South Asian economies to become Asia's "new tigers," the Asian Development Bank said on Thursday.

Led by India and Pakistan, South Asia has registered higher growth than its peers in Southeast Asia in the past five years, the Manila-based lender said in a report.

"South Asia stands at a critical juncture today, where the potential for sustained high growth and poverty reduction is excellent," said Kunio Senga, director general of ADB's South Asia Department.

Last year, the region registered growth of 8.1 per cent, above Asia's average gross domestic product growth of 7.6 per cent.

In India and Pakistan, economic growth accelerated to 8.4 per cent and 8.6 per cent, respectively, the ADB said, while most other countries in the region have been on a similar trend although with more modest improvements.

The bank noted that despite a shift toward liberalisation, the region continues to be overregulated and is therefore not fully realising its growth potential.

For example, in Southeast Asia it takes an average of five official signatures to export goods and seven signatures to import goods, while in South Asia the number required is 12 to export and 24 to import, the ADB said.

It said that common problems in the South Asian region include bureaucracy, a lack of coordination between government agencies, overstaffing and inadequate pay in the public sector.