Indo-Pak standoff won’t impact growth in S.Asia, says WEF & CII

The current standoff between New Delhi and Islamabad will not impact the growth prospects of the South Asian region including India, the Geneva-based ‘World Economic Forum’ said on Wednesday.

Fastest growing

Speaking to mediapersons ahead of the WEF-Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) ‘India Economic Summit’ that will begin on Thursday, Jennifer Blanke, chief economist and member of the executive committee, WEF, said South Asia was the world’s fastest growing region and there was no reason to believe that the recent geopolitical tension would impact the region’s growth prospects.

“There is a sense of excitement that growth will happen and I remain bullish on South Asia,” Ms. Blanke said. “There are several challenges in the region, which are at the same time opportunities as well,” she said.

Chandrajit Banerjee, director-general, CII, also said the economy and business in India and South Asia would not get affected due to the tension at the India-Pakistan border.

“We see demand picking up and more investments coming in,” Mr. Banerjee said. “There has been a strong monsoon and good agricultural bounce-back… Indian industry has appreciated the government’s position on foreign policy and it has had a positive impact so far on the region’s growth.”

Philipp Rosler, member of the managing board, WEF, told The Hindu: “The more peaceful the environment, the better it will be for investments and business. We are lucky the Summit has not been affected due to the tension. However, at the same time, we hope for a quick and peaceful resolution (of issues).”

On criticism that the Summit was losing relevance as important members of the NDA government, including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were not taking part in it, Banerjee said Mr. Jaitley was unable to attend as he was on an official visit to Canada and the U.S.

Summit’s focus

Besides, the Summit’s focus was on topics that concern ministries other than finance, he said. These included the digital economy, travel & tourism, energy, entrepreneurship, infrastructure, start-ups, skill development, gender equity, urbanisation, boosting manufacturing and urbanisation.

Ms. Blanke said though monetary policy is important to boost growth, structural reforms such as ensuring labour market flexibility were also critical to power growth. Sarita Nayyar, managing director, WEF USA said the WEF was undertaking some initiatives with States including Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to increase farmer income by helping forge partnerships around value chains. Another important topic of discussion would be fighting cybercrime through public-private partnerships, she said. Mr. Rosler said the WEF was looking to help kick-off some projects in digital infrastructure, financial inclusion, as well as education and health.

Source: The Hindu

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