While South Asia was deemed the fastest growing economy in the world in 2016 by the World Bank, it has simultaneously been ascertained as being the least integrated, rendering its communities unable to benefit from intra-regional trade. It seems that the countries within South East Asia are not reaping the benefits from the boom.
According to a report, South Asian Regionalism: What Hopes After SAARC Meltdown authored by the Sagar Prasai Foundation:
“Today, less than five per cent of South Asia’s trade occurs within the region, which remains the least integrated in the world. In comparison, intra-regional trade in the Asean region is around 30 per cent, the European Union around 60 per cent, and continental Africa around 12 per cent. This stands as a regional loss ready to cut-short South Asia’s rare moment at the top rung of the growth ladder.”
It is further anticipated that the South Asia region will hold this spot in the international economic growth chart well into next year. The consumer class is prospering, the young population is high at 1.6 billion and everything else looks good for them to continue being an attractive location for foreign investors. Furthermore, the imports in 2016 matured at a remarkable rate of 7.2 percent.
Looking at some examples in the region we find that with the opening in Singapore of DHL Express, established firms are taking advantage of the benefits of the region’s fast-developing cross-border trade. The facility – (located at Changi’s International Airport) – valued at $93million – is expected to be used to build up DHL’s ability to process the burgeoning number of mail and parcels being transported from and within the entire South Asian region. According to Ken Allen, CEO of DHL Express, opening up this branch in South Asia’s hub is one of “the most recent in a series of global network investments made, and is the largest infrastructural investment in Singapore to date. The country’s strategic location not only boosts our operational network capabilities, but also supports growing trade in the region aided by a stronger global economy.”