Will Economic Fallout of Middle East Turmoil Impact India and Pakistan?
Political fall-out from the events in Tunisia and Egypt has already engulfed the Middle Eastern nations of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. However, little attention has so far been paid to the more immediate impact of spreading trouble in the oil-rich Middle East on developing nations in South Asia and elsewhere.
Crude oil prices have been rising for some time but the fears of the spread of the political unrest have accelerated the rate of increase. The price of crude has already crossed the crucial $100 a barrel mark with the Libyan crisis in full bloom. South Asian economies are keeping a close eye on the situation in Africa and Middle East but still remain unaffected in receiving their oil supplies through this region. Any further spread of the unrest into GCC countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, could have a huge impact on the health of South Asian economies.
According to the World Bank's Immigration and Remittances Factbook 2011, the top remittance sending countries in 2009 were the United States, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Russia and Germany. Worldwide, the top recipient countries in 2010 were India, China, Mexico, Philippines and France, according to Dawn News. In South Asia, the top five remittance receiving nations in 2010 were: India ($55.0 billion), Bangladesh ($11.1 billion), Pakistan ($9.4 billion), Sri Lanka ($3.6 billion), and Nepal ($3.5 billion).
Pakistan's exports to the Middle East add up to several billion dollars a year. The United Arab Emirates alone imported $1.7 billion worth of Pakistani products last year, according to Arabian Business.
Relatively stable energy prices and rising exports and surging remittances have helped South Asian nations in 2009-2010. But this could all unravel with rising oil import bill combined with the fall of inflows from worker remittances and decline in exports to the Middle East region. India and Pakistan are already running significant current account deficits, and experiencing high rates of inflation exacerbated by rising food and energy prices since late 2010. The economic hardship, particularly high food prices and unemployment, could become a catalyst for serious political turmoil in South Asia in 2011 and beyond.
Pakistan's Economy 2008-2010
Pakistan's Rising Exports and Remittances
Indian Economy: Hard or Soft Landing in 2011?
China's Trade and Investment in South Asia
India's Twin Deficits
Inflation Hits India
Goldman Sachs India Warning on Twin Deficits
India's Nov 2010 Imports, Exports