Date of publication
July 2014
Geographical focus

This regional profile presents the Doing
Business indicators for economies in East Asia and the
Pacific (EAP). It also shows the regional average, the best
performance globally for each indicator and data for the
following comparator regions: Europe and Central Asia,
European Union, Latin America, South Asia, and OECD High
Income. The data in this report are current as of June 1,
2013, except for the paying taxes indicators, which cover
the period January to December 2012. Regional Doing Business
reports capture differences in business regulations and
their enforcement across countries in a single region. They
provide data on the ease of doing business, rank each
location, and recommend reforms to improve performance in
each of the indicator areas. The report sheds light on how
easy or difficult it is for a local entrepreneur to open and
run a small to medium-size business when complying with
relevant regulations. It measures and tracks changes in
regulations affecting 11 areas in the life cycle of a
business: starting a business, dealing with construction
permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting
credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across
borders, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency and
employing workers. Doing Business presents quantitative
indicators on business regulations and the protection of
property rights that can be compared across 189 economies,
from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, over time. The data set covers
47 economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, 33 in Latin America and
the Caribbean, 25 in East Asia and the Pacific, 25 in
Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 20 in the Middle East and
North Africa and 8 in South Asia, as well as 31 OECD
high-income economies. The indicators are used to analyze
economic outcomes and identify what reforms have worked,
where and why.

Date of publication
April 2013

This volume presents a synthesis of the
multi-country collaborative program of analytical and
advisory activities titled reducing vulnerability to climate
change in European and Central Asian (ECA) agricultural
systems. Climate change and its impacts on agricultural
systems and rural economies are already evident throughout
the ECA region. Adaptation measures now in use in the
region-largely piecemeal efforts-would be insufficient to
prevent impacts on agricultural production over the coming
decades. Interest is growing among governments and many of
their development partners to gain a better understanding of
the exposure, sensitivities, and impacts of climate change
at the farm level, and to develop and prioritize adaptation
measures to build resilience to the potentially adverse
consequences. Agricultural production is inextricably tied
to climate, making agriculture one of the most
climate-sensitive of all economic sectors. In many
countries, such as the four examined in this work, the risks
of climate change for the agricultural sector are a
particularly immediate and important problem because the
majority of the rural population depends either directly or
indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods. The risks
of climate change cannot be effectively dealt with and the
opportunities cannot be effectively exploited without a
clear plan for aligning agricultural policies with climate
change, for developing key agricultural institution
capabilities, and for making needed infrastructure and
on-farm investments. However, an important advantage of the
innovative approach developed for this assessment is that it
can be applied to gauge the climate change risks and
opportunities of any country's farming systems, and it
can be used to define and prioritize practical adaptation options.

Date of publication
January 2014
Geographical focus

Recent increases in the prices of
agricultural commodities have spurred a surge of private
investment into farming and agribusiness. Given the right
types of large-scale investment, this can have a
transformative effect in underdeveloped rural areas and have
a positive effect on national economic development including
the provision of domestic food supply to urban areas that
can reduce dependence on food imports. This study analyzes
the experience of the Commonwealth Development Corporation
(CDC) as an investor in commercial smallholder and estate
agriculture and agro-processing in Sub-Saharan Africa and
Southeast Asia and the Pacific between 1948 and 2000. A
simple analysis of the data was undertaken to determine
whether success and failure can be correlated to any
critical factors. Seventy-nine (or 49 percent) of the
projects were classified as failures or moderate failures in
financial terms. This review of CDC agribusiness investments
corroborates the view that agribusiness investments are
risky, particularly when the investment is in a start-up.
While only one fifth of projects were rated complete
failures, one third of equity investments generated at least
moderately attractive internal rates of return, and overall
about 55 percent resulted in financially viable projects.
The majority of projects in both Asia and Africa ended up
being sustainable businesses that delivered broadly the
number of jobs and level of turnover that had initially been
anticipated. This raises the question of why, despite this
low level of returns on equity, these businesses often
survive. The analysis of CDC's agribusiness portfolio
demonstrates both historical potential and pitfalls and
illustrates the need to continuously adapt and innovate to
achieve both political and commercial sustainability.

Date of publication
January 2015
Geographical focus

Across the world, the housing sector
plays a key role in local and national economies, and
expanding access to housing can encourage more equitably
shared economic growth. This report surveys current policy
interventions designed to encourage affordable housing in
East Asia and the Pacific (EAP). The purpose of this report
is to provide a general overview of the recent trends in
urbanization and development in EAP and to consider
different forms of government, market, and nonprofit actions
that support housing affordability. It will also highlight
key constraints and barriers that restrict the provision of
low-cost housing in urban areas. Housing is important
because it represents a significant household expenditure.
The report assesses the strengths and limitations of
affordable housing strategies used by different countries
throughout EAP. This report offers broad conclusions that
account for the broad social, political, and institutional
variation among EAP countries; as such, these conclusions
may well be applicable to more than one country context. The
report also provides specific recommendations for
improvement where existing interventions are new or have
proven less successful. The report is divided into following
chapters: chapter one gives introduction. Chapter two
examines trends in urbanization rates, economic development,
and inequality in order to introduce the need for
high-quality, low-cost housing options. Chapter three
examines EAP regional trends in urban housing affordability
for owners and renters from select cities. Chapter four
outlines future directions for affordable housing provision
based on a comparative consideration of international best
practices. Finally, chapter five surveys different
affordable housing policies currently in place in EAP and
summarizes their strengths and weaknesses.

Date of publication
August 2014
Geographical focus

Deeper regional integration can be
beneficial especially for regions along international
borders. It can open up new markets on opposite sides of
borders and give consumers wider access to cheaper goods.
This paper uses data from five contiguous districts of
India, Nepal, and Bangladesh in the northeast of the
subcontinent to measure the degrees of trade complementarity
between districts. The paper illustrates that the regions
are underexploiting the potential of intraregional commerce.
Price wedges of up to 90 percent in some important
consumption products along with measures of complementarity
between households' production and consumption suggest
the potential for relatively large gains from deeper trade
integration. Furthermore, an examination of a specific
supply chain of tea highlights factors that help industries
scale up, aided by institutions such as an organized auction
and decent physical and legal infrastructure. However,
districts alike in geography but located across
international boundaries face different development
prospects, suggesting that gains from reduced
"thickness of borders" would not accrue
automatically. Much rests on developing intrinsic industry
competitiveness at home, including the reform of regulatory
and business practices and infrastructural bottlenecks that
prevent agglomeration of local economies.

Date of publication
December 2015
Geographical focus

East–Southeast Asia is currently one of the fastest urbanizing regions in the world, with countries such as China climbing from 20 to 50% urbanized in just a few decades. By 2050, these countries are projected to add 1 billion people, with 90% of that growth occurring in cities. This population shift parallels an equally astounding amount of built-up land expansion. However, spatially-and temporally-detailed information on regional-scale changes in urban land or population distribution do not exist; previous efforts have been either sample-based, focused on one country, or drawn conclusions from datasets with substantial temporal/spatial mismatch and variability in urban definitions. Using consistent methodology, satellite imagery and census data for >1000 agglomerations in the East–Southeast Asian region, we show that urban land increased >22% between 2000 and 2010 (from 155 000 to 189 000 km2), an amount equivalent to the area of Taiwan, while urban populations climbed >31% (from 738 to 969 million). Although urban land expanded at unprecedented rates, urban populations grew more rapidly, resulting in increasing densities for the majority of urban agglomerations, including those in both more developed (Japan, South Korea) and industrializing nations (China, Vietnam, Indonesia). This result contrasts previous sample-based studies, which conclude that cities are universally declining in density. The patterns and rates of change uncovered by these data sets provide a unique record of the massive urban transition currently underway in East–Southeast Asia that is impacting local-regional climate, pollution levels, water quality/availability, arable land, as well as the livelihoods and vulnerability of populations in the region.

Date of publication
November 2015
Geographical focus

This report summarizes the knowledge
shared and issues raised during a conference convened by the
World Bank on the above topic held on November 3-5, 2014 in
Manila, Philippines. Building on earlier conferences on this
topic, the conference aimed to raise awareness about, and
share good practice on, building a social protection system
that integrates disaster risk management and climate change
adaptation. It brought together 17 country delegations from
Asia and Pacific region comprised of officials from the
ministries managing social protection, disaster risk
management, and financing and insurance.2 As such, it was
both cross-global practice and cross-regional in focus. The
conference offered a range of learning opportunities,
including presentations from technical experts from the
World Bank, country case studies from Asia, Africa and Latin
America, roundtable discussions, and group work sessions.
The conference was conducted in collaboration with the
Government of the Philippines and was financed by the Rapid
Social Response Fund and the Global Facility for Disaster
Reduction and Recovery.

Date of publication
June 2014
Geographical focus

Central Asia is often associated with
the silk route or road, the longest overland trade route
connecting China to Europe and one of the oldest in history.
Growth opportunities and the future prosperity of the region
are highly dependent upon the efficiency of its internal and
external supply-chain connections, which is the focus of
this report. Supply-chain connectivity depends on the
quality of the infrastructure on specific routes. This study
explains how supply chain fragmentation remains a serious
obstacle to economic development of Central Asia and to
Eurasian integration more generally. It provides a
comprehensive assessment of the various factors that yet
impede supply-chain integration, including weak transport
and communications infrastructure, but as important, and
perhaps more so, critical weaknesses in policy,
institutions, and governance. Based on this assessment this
report provides an insightful set of recommendations that,
if taken up by the governments of Central Asia and by their
key neighbors, will go a long way in promoting the effective
integration of Central Asia into an increasingly connected
Eurasian continental economy and with that into the global economy.

Date of publication
August 2015
Geographical focus

Economic development critically involves
diversification and structural transformation—that is, the
continued, dynamic reallocation of resources from less
productive to more productive sectors and activities. This
paper documents that, over an extended period, developing
Asia has on average been particularly successful in
diversifying its exports, particularly in comparison with
Sub-Saharan Africa. Much of the progress has occurred
through diversification along the ‘extensive margin,’ that
is, through entry into completely new products. In addition,
developing Asia has on average benefited significantly from
quality upgrading, helping it capitalize on already existing
comparative advantages. Yet, agricultural and natural
resources tend to have lower potential for quality upgrading
than manufactures. Therefore, for lower-income “frontier”
countries, diversification into products with longer
“quality ladders” may be a necessary first step before large
gains from quality improvement can be reaped.

Date of publication
November 2015
Geographical focus

New qualitative fieldwork in eight
countries of Europe and Central Asia (ECA) indicates that
the dramatic declines in poverty in much of the region over
the last decade do not appear to be registering very
favorably with men and women on the ground. This paper
provides a gender analysis of findings from equal numbers of
sex-specific focus groups with employed and jobless
individuals. The methodology featured a standardized package
of semi-structured data collection tools, which enabled
systematic comparative analysis of the datasets from 37
urban and rural communities across eight countries in the
region. While lack of jobs and the rising cost of living are
central concerns for both women and men across the sample,
the qualitative data highlights important gender differences
in how men and women are responding to these challenges that
quantitative survey approaches appear to miss. Throughout
the sample, women are widely reported to be doing everything
they can to pull their households out of poverty or to
maintain their families in the middle class, while men voice
deep frustration with their weak economic opportunities and
the need for additional household members to contribute
economically. Women’s increased economic participation in
the face of men’s hardships with breadwinning - and the
stress on gender roles and relations that this entails - are
crucial for making sense of frustrations on the ground
despite the region’s significant social and economic development.


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