|Economic Reform and Trade Performance in South Asia
Editors: Omar Haider Chowdhury and Willem van der Geest
ISBN 984 05 1731 7 2004 466pp 215x136mm HB Tk.550.00 US$27.00
Across South Asia economic policy reforms were to accelerate growth by enhancing the countries’ internal and external competitiveness. To what extent did the sluggish trade performance of South Asian countries actually improve? To what extent have opportunities for regional trade and investment cooperation materialized in the more liberal post-reform context? Did inflows of foreign direct investment actually increase? What does the external sector performance during liberalization imply for the next decade and, more immediately, for the ongoing WTO negotiations under the Doha Development Round?
The in-depth case studies presented in this volume covering Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka indicate beyond doubt that the 1990s have been characterized by considerable trade and investment policy reforms. Trade liberalization which has taken place appears most pronounced in the area of tariff reduction and the elimination of quantitative restriction. In the related area of foreign investment policy, there has been a serious attempt at attracting foreign investors through an increasingly liberal set of rules governing their operations.
The country studies take stock of the economic policy reforms undertaken in South Asia since the early 1990s and the resulting changes in the regional and global trade patterns, drawing on fresh research as well as primary and secondary data from each of the countries. The prospects and problems of regional trade cooperation in the liberalized post-reform context are candidly assessed. The country studies also focus on the Asian experience during the 1990s and into the 21st century.
The evidence coming through does not support the view that South Asia’s trade and investment regimes have become very liberal. Within the trade domain, one may observe a host of non-tariff barriers to trade, while tariffs remain substantial for many sectors. Within the investment arena, obstacles have remained which derive from practices and procedures imposed at lower administrative levels (such as state governments, municipalities or state-monopolies) setting an effective brake on the provision of utilities and services as well as administrative transparency. However, the case studies provide clear evidence that demand factors remain the major determinant of export growth. Domestic policy adjustment, for example of the exchange rates regimes, remains of a secondary nature.
Editors: Omar Haider Chowdhury (editor) is a Research Director at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, Dhaka.
Willem van der Geest (co-editor) is currently Director of the European Institute for Asian Studies, Brussels.
Contributors: Sirimal Abeyratne, Chowdhury Anwaruzzaman, Zaid Bakht, Bisweswar Bhattacharyya, Mohammad Aslam Chaudhary, Omar Haider Chowdhury, Willem van der Geest, Mahendra P. Lama, Narayan Chandra Nath, Dilip Kumar Roy, Wajid Hasan Shah, Quazi Shahabuddin, Salma Chaudhuri Zohir.