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Connecting Asia: infrastructure for integrating South and Southeast Asia

This publication analyses how closer regional connectivity and economic integration between South Asia and Southeast Asia can benefit both regions. With a focus on the role played by infrastructure and public policies in facilitating this process, it provides a detailed and up-to-date discussion of issues, innovations, and progress. Country studies of national connectivity issues and policies cover Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, examining major developments in trade and investment, economic cooperation, the role of economic corridors, and regional cooperation initiatives. Thematic chapters explore investment in land and sea transport infrastructure, trade facilitation, infrastructure investment financing, supporting national and regional policies, and model-based estimates of the benefits of integration. They also identify significant opportunities for strengthening these integration efforts as a result of the recent opening up of Myanmar in political, economic, and financial terms. For the first time for these regions, the book employs a state-of-the-art computable general equilibrium (CGE) model incorporating heterogeneous firms to estimate the advantages of integration.

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Achieving universal electricity access in Indonesia

This report describes Indonesia’s electrification environment and identifies barriers to achieving universal electricity access. Principles drawn from international best practices such as government commitment, enabling institutional environments, adequate and sustainable financing, and stakeholder coordination are discussed in the context of Indonesia’s energy sector. The report gives recommendations for establishing service standards, streamlining financing, setting appropriate targets, and monitoring and evaluation, as well as near-term steps to help achieve universal electricity access.

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How inclusive is inclusive business for women? Examples from Asia and Latin America

Inclusive businesses are commercially viable business models that provide in-scale innovative and systemic solutions to problems relevant to the lives of low-income people. Inclusive business companies often involve women in their value chain and provide specific services that help low-income women. This report assesses the extent to which inclusive business models promote women's economic empowerment. Examples come from the inclusive business portfolios of the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Finance Corporation.

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Overview of financial inclusion, regulation, and education

Financial inclusion is receiving increasing attention as having the potential to contribute to economic and financial development while at the same time fostering more inclusive growth and greater income equality. However, although substantial progress has been made, there is still much to achieve. East Asia and the Pacific and South Asia combined account for 55% of the world’s unbanked adults, mainly in India and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This paper surveys the experience of a number of advanced and Asian emerging economies to assess factors affecting the ability of low-income households and small firms to access financial services, including financial literacy, financial education programs and financial regulatory frameworks, and identify policies that can improve their financial access while maintaining financial stability. It aims to identify successful experiences and important lessons that can be adopted by other emerging economies. This analysis is based on studies of the experiences of Germany, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The study aims to take a practical and holistic approach to issues related to financial inclusion. For example, innovative methods of promoting financial access, such as mobile phone banking and micro-finance, require corresponding innovations in regulatory frameworks, perimeters and capacity. Moreover, programs in the areas of financial education and consumer protection are needed to enable households and small firms to take full advantage of improvements in financial access.

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Barriers to innovation in Indian small and medium-sized enterprises

Innovation plays a critical role in shaping the industrial and firm competitiveness of any nation. Innovation is often discussed in the setting of developed countries, but the rise of emerging economies such as India has generated a new interest in understanding innovation in developing economies. This paper aims to study and present the current state of innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in India. The focus of the paper is to bring out the key barriers SMEs face in the innovation process in the context of the existing government policy. India, being a developing nation, has its own set of unique situations and challenges that impede the innovation potential of SMEs operating in it. Many of these barriers are related to public policy, funding constraints, shortage of skilled research and development (R&D) workforce, and weak linkages between institutions and the firms, among others.

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An assessment of financial sector development in Bhutan

This paper presents the results of a study into the performance and stability of Bhutan’s banking system. It finds that economic growth has fueled a large demand for household credit over recent years. In turn, banks have responded by substantially increasing their loan portfolios. Although the largest recipient of credit is the building and construction sector, personal loans now make up more than 18% of credit extended to the private sector. Within this context, this study discusses policy recommendations to strengthen and improve the banking sector. These measures include fostering banking sector competition, improving regulatory practices on both the monitoring and the enforcement side, and enhancing risk diversification and liquidity management practices.

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Tajikistan: promoting export diversification and growth

Building on robust economic growth since the end of a civil war in 1997, Tajikistan has transformed itself into a service economy driven by consumer spending fueled by strong remittance inflow. Yet the transfer of resources to high value-added sectors has been restrained, and structural change has generated few new jobs. Without sufficient employment opportunities in the services and industrial sectors, agriculture became the fallback for most of the labor force. To continue its economic growth, Tajikistan requires new drivers from a diversified industry sector and a modernized economy through structural transformation and export diversification.

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Bangladesh: looking beyond garments - employment diagnostic study

Economic growth in Bangladesh, above 6% in most years since the 2000s, has been on the fast track since the 1990s. Not many developing countries, especially the least developed, have been able to achieve this consistently for such a long period. Yet despite the jobs generated in the export-oriented ready-made garment industry, the fruits of growth have not been widely shared. This joint study by the Asian Development Bank and the International Labour Organization examines the nature and magnitude of the employment challenge Bangladesh faces, looking at the nature of productive employment and its role in transmitting the benefits of growth into incomes for the poor. It indicates that the positive economic turnaround in Bangladesh is largely due to the rising presence of women in the workplace.

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Bangladesh: consolidating export-led growth - country diagnostic study

Bangladesh has transformed its economy over the last 2 decades, graduating to middle-income status as average annual growth remained strong at 5%–6%. The country’s goal to become an upper-middle-income country by 2021 will require even stronger annual growth of 7.5%–8%. The study finds that the most critical constraints to growth are (i) insufficient reliable energy supply, (ii) policies that indirectly stunt development of economic activities unrelated to ready-made garment exports, and (iii) insufficient security about property and land rights due in part to inadequate registry systems. If policies are designed to urgently tackle these constraints, Bangladesh will be free to harness its potential for inclusive and sustainable growth.

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The housing challenge in emerging Asia: options and solutions

This publication provides new insights and ideas to best design and implement housing policies aimed at improving access to affordable and adequate housing. The book offers an innovative theoretical framework to conceptualize and analyze various housing policies. It also critically reviews housing policies of various countries and draws lessons for others. The countries studied include advanced economies within and outside Asia, such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as emerging countries within Asia, such as the People’s Republic of China and India.

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Improving energy efficiency in South Asia

Opportunities for energy efficiency in South Asian power systems exist mostly in the areas of operation of thermal power plants, electricity transmission and delivery systems and in demand management and conservation at the user-end. This paper concludes that there is scope for significant improvement in coal-fired power plant efficiency improvements and loss reduction in transmission and distribution systems. On the demand side expanded application of time-of-use electricity tariffs and appliance standards along with demand control through smart metering will improve efficiency. These improvements can be realized with appropriate policies and programs that can be readily implemented with the existing institutional framework.

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Housing system and urbanization in the People’s Republic of China

This paper examines how transformations in the housing system in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) influence the PRC pattern of urbanization. It first discusses how housing policies determine the supply and demand of housing in urban PRC and subsequently analyzes how the changes in the mode of housing provision have affected rural–urban migration, intercity labor mobility, the financing of urban infrastructure, and general urban economic activities in the PRC. The PRC experience of the interaction between the housing system and urbanization is unique, but it clearly indicates that an effective housing system that can responsively provide adequate and affordable housing is crucial to the success of inclusive and equitable urbanization.

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Digital health infrastructure: the backbone of surveillance for malaria elimination

Elimination of malaria is not only technically feasible but also a public health imperative. With millions of people at risk from the disease across Asia and the Pacific, and malaria imposing an even bigger burden in Africa, the race is on to eliminate the disease in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). The area is of particular concern because of growing resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapies. Resistance to this last line of simple-to-use and effective malaria drugs has been detected in Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

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Nature-based solutions for building resilience in towns and cities: case studies from the Greater Mekong Subregion

Urban populations are projected to increase from 54% to 66% of the global population by 2050, with close to 90% of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa. Cities and towns—a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions—will need to address challenges posed by climate change. A nature-based approach in identifying climate change vulnerabilities and developing relevant adaptation options was conducted in three towns of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Working with local governments, non-government organizations, women’s groups, and professional associations, town-wide adaptation measures were defined by overlaying climate change projections on town plans and zoning schemes for strategic infrastructure. This publication captures valuable experience and lessons from the project.

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Connecting Bangladesh: economic corridor network

In this paper, a new set of corridors is being proposed for Bangladesh—a nine-corridor comprehensive integrated multimodal economic corridor network. This paper presents the initial results of the research undertaken as an early step of that development effort. It recommends an integrated approach to developing economic corridors in Bangladesh that would provide a strong economic foundation for the construction of world-class infrastructure that, in turn, could support the growth of local enterprises and attract foreign investment.

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Myanmar: energy sector assessment, strategy, and road map

Myanmar has abundant energy resources, particularly hydropower and natural gas. However, the country’s energy sector has been underdeveloped due to global isolation and lack of financial and technical capacity. This is the first energy sector assessment, strategy, and road map for Myanmar prepared by ADB's Southeast Asia Energy Division. It highlights energy sector performance, major development constraints, government plans and strategy, past ADB support and experience, other development partner support, and future ADB support strategy. This document is linked to and feeds into ADB’s country partnership strategy for Myanmar and will be updated as strategic developments and program changes are needed.

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The development economics of landlockedness

The purpose of this study was to analyse the impact of landlockedness on the development prospects of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs). In particular the study assesses the impact of landlockedness on the overall development performance of LLDCs on a large number of economic, institutional, and social indicators; empirically estimates the development cost of being landlocked using an econometric approach; and based on the findings, proposes recommendations that can provide a more holistic strategy to the development of LLDCs. The distinctive feature of the econometric approach used is that it does not limit landlockedness to affect income (or economic growth) through its effect on trade. The logic underlying the modelling approach is that landlockedness can affect both economic and non-economic dimensions of development and that these development effects can be transmitted through several channels that include international trade and quality of institutions.

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State of the Least Developed Countries 2016

The current report builds on the first and second editions, which considered the issues of productive capacity building as well as extreme poverty eradication in the least developed countries (LDCs) and the post-2015 development agenda. These reports provided analysis relating to the inclusion of LDC issues in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. This year’s report is dedicated to the implementation of the SDGs in LDCs using synergies with the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA). Part 1 of the report assesses progress towards achieving the goals and targets of the IPoA, particularly in the eight priority areas; reviews efforts towards this end; and identifies challenges ahead. The report argues that enhanced, coordinated and targeted support to the LDCs fulfilling ODA commitments but also going beyond, will remain critical to effectively implementing the IPoA. Part 2 of the report assesses the complementarities of the IPoA and the 2030 Agenda. It maps the goals, targets and actions of the IPoA with the SDGs, focusing on means of implementation. Furthermore it looks at how the implementation of the SDGs in LDCs can be fostered, including its mainstreaming and monitoring and followup. The conclusions and policy recommendations cover the findings in both parts of the report. As the report finds significant synergies between the IPoA and the Agenda 2030 it highlights the importance of leadership and political will and effective global partnership.

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Supporting vulnerable countries on their path to poverty eradication and prosperity

From the General Assembly in 1971 that established the LDC status, to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, this brochure will highlight the evolution of the different international mandates supporting the UN’s most vulnerable countries, and UNIDO’s intervention within them, taking into account previous achievements and unmet challenges. The brochure concludes with a discussion of the future path for these countries, emphasizing issues that development strategies must address in order to reach their goal of poverty eradication and increased prosperity. Effort is being made to highlight selected UNIDO interventions, however the mentions in this brochure are non-exhaustive.

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Diagnostics for industrial value chain development

Industrial value chains are complex both in terms of the various segments they cover (from primary materials to consumption), and the impacts that their progress and development can generate. It is in this context that UNIDO’s value chain diagnostics tool aims to provide guidance. The main objective is to draw a complete picture of the chain using a set of diagnostic dimensions, as broad in nature as possible, to describe the current situation in a given context. Once this is established the diagnostics also help to reflect on opportunities and constraints that impact on certain dynamics in the value chain, automatic or induced through governments and development agents.

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The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: achieving the industry-related goals and targets

UNIDO’s vision to address today’s economic, social and environmental challenges is enshrined in the Lima Declaration, which was adopted by UNIDO Member States in December 2013. On this basis, the Organization pursues Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID) to harness industry’s full potential to contribute to lasting prosperity for all. The mandate is based on the recognition by Member States that poverty eradication “can only be achieved through strong, inclusive, sustainable and resilient economic and industrial growth, and the effective integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.” The present document summarizes the contribution of UNIDO’s mandate as well as current and planned future activities vis-à-vis the SDGs, with a special focus on SDG-9, which highlights and affirms the critical importance of ISID and its contribution to all 17 goals.

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MDG Gap Task Force Report 2015: taking stock of the global partnership for development

This report of the United Nations MDG Gap Task Force monitors the recent achievements and challenges in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goal 8, while looking ahead towards the new sustainable development agenda. Key report findings reveal official development assistance flows have increased remarkably by 66 per cent from 2000 to 2014. In merchandise exports, developing countries’ access to developed-country markets has improved from 30.5 to 43.8 per cent over the same period. Debt burdens have been reduced in most highly indebted poor countries. Mobile phone penetration in developing countries is estimated to reach 92 per cent at the end of 2015, compared to less than 10 per cent in 2000. Nevertheless, the Report also finds that major gaps persist in development aid flows to the least developed countries and in eliminating trade barriers for developing countries. Additionally, many people cannot access essential medicines and the Internet at affordable prices.

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Investment guide to the Silk Road

In 2013 the World Bank identified the Silk Road countries as one of the regions that has made the most progress in improving the ease of doing business. A network of investment treaties and double taxation agreements also signals the increasing openness of the region to international investment. This guide provides potential investors with information on the Silk Road to illustrate the various investment opportunities in Central Asia, and familiarize themselves with the region. Chapter I introduces the region and individual economies, and summarizes the extensive history of the Silk Road, from its ancient prosperity to its current revival. Chapter II provides the reader with information about the economic conditions of each country and the region as a whole. Chapter III outlines investment opportunities in selected sectors in the Silk Road countries. The Appendices provide brief overviews of the investment regulatory framework in each of the Silk Road countries.

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The Palestinian economy in East Jerusalem: enduring annexation, isolation and disintegration

International organizations and Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organizations have published reports and studies in recent years on East Jerusalem focused mainly on political and social conditions. But few have examined its economy, which is generally considered to follow the overall trend of the West Bank economy and is represented statistically as part of it. Be that as it may, East Jerusalem’s economy, like other features of its society, culture and landscape, is also shaped by factors unique to its particular experience in the face of Israeli occupation and settlement. This report aims to explore these hitherto neglected issues within the context of the secretariat’s continuing assessment of the economic development prospects of the occupied Palestinian territory and obstacles to trade and development, and with a view to alleviating the adverse economic and social conditions imposed on the Palestinian people, as called for by the Doha Mandate.

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The way to the ocean: transit corridors servicing the trade of landlocked developing countries

The present paper looks at selected East African transit corridors which provide access to seaports as gateways to link landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) with overseas trading partners. The report suggests three complementary courses of action to improve transit transport efficiency and sustainability: 1) Building institutional capacity through corridor management arrangements, including formal agreements, where and as appropriate; 2) Improving the reliability and predictability of transit operations by trust-building measures between public regulators and private operators, such as risk-management customs systems, which allow for fewer en route checks, shorter delays and smaller convoys; 3) Developing and operating transport nodes, or freight hubs, with a particular focus on the consolidation of small flows, to create critical masses required to achieve economies of scale, higher return on investment on both infrastructure and transport services, and lead to the development of effective intermodal transit operations.

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