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Over the past decade South Asia has experienced rapid economic growth, but its infrastructure growth has not kept pace. The World Bank recently came out with a report, “Reducing Poverty by Closing South Asia’s Infrastructure Gap,” which found that countries in South Asia need to invest up to $2.5 trillion in order to bridge the infrastructure gap in the next ten years. An infrastructure gap is the difference between a country’s development goals and its actual capability to obtain those goals.

According to the report, one third of the $2.5 trillion has to be spent on transport, one third on electricity, and the remainder split between water supply and sanitation, solid waste management, telecommunications, and irrigation. South Asia is made up of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Of these countries, Maldives’ population has the largest access to infrastructure services with 95% of its population having access to electricity and 98% of its population having access to improved sanitation. Afghanistan has the most limited access to infrastructure services amongst these countries with 30% of its population having access to electricity and 29% of its population having access to improved sanitation.

Recently there have been pushes for infrastructure development in many of these countries. For example, Tata group, an Indian conglomerate, is planning on investing $8 billion in building roads, airports, and housing in India. Bhutan has recently seen a large increase in mobile phones, despite being one of the last countries in the world to get television. Of Bhutan's 750,000 people, an astonishing 73% is connected to one of Bhutan’s two cellular networks. Despite these recent advances in infrastructure, South Asian countries still have a significant amount of investment needed in order to bridge the gap.

According to Matias Herra Dappe, a World Bank Senior Economist for South Asia, “Infrastructure deficiencies in South Asia are enormous, and a mix of investment in infrastructure stock and implementing supportive reforms will enable the region to close its infrastructure gap.”

As South Asian economies continue to rapidly grow, it will be important to bridge the infrastructure gap. In order to become competitive on a global level, these countries need to invest a tremendous amount of capital into infrastructure. Some projects are underway, but it is important for governments to explore methodologies for prioritizing infrastructure projects and getting them underway.

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As the world's population continues to grow, more and more countries are beginning to realize the importance of improving infrastructure. The 2012-2013 Global Competitiveness Report repeatedly cites infrastructure as the single biggest hindrance to doing business in India, well ahead of corruption and bureaucracy. To address the needs of urbanization and global business, governments around the world are spending large amounts of money on infrastructure projects.

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A few months ago, Brazilian authorities officially announced that $2.3 billion will be spent on infrastructure projects alone for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. These costs will rise as projects are added along the way, and efforts to solve Brazil’s infrastructure gap continue. The pressure on the country continues as Brazil will be the first South American country to host the Olympic Games. On top of the 2016 Olympics, Brazil is also hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup this summer and has experienced delays in its infrastructure preparation. Therefore, the focus on infrastructure development has sharpened in Brazil. Now the question is: How will Brazil’s infrastructure growth impact its long-term prospects as an emerging country in the global economy?

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Infrastructure can be defined as the structure or underlying foundation on which the continued growth of a community depends and is of vital importance to countries in all stages of development.  The rapid development of innovations in technology and communication has enabled significant improvements in the design, installation, and operation of assets, which can expedite the process of upgrading infrastructure.  In today’s global business environment, cities around the world are competing for business and investment, and the quality of existing infrastructure is often a determining factor.  Countries that are able to deliver improvements to infrastructure quickly and without political interference will likely reap the greatest economic benefits.

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In the face of major economic sanctions from many countries around the world, especially the United States and other Western nations, Russia has been actively looking to avoid economic isolation. As a result of this, it has turned to many large nations in the East to set up economic agreements. One country that is willing to open its doors is China. After over ten years of talks on the subject, Russia and China are finally coming close to signing what has been called a "Holy Grail" for Russia and especially Moscow; a deal where Russia will send natural gas to China.

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Following six long years of recession, which reduced Greece's economy by a quarter of its size and rose unemployment to 28%, Greece is finally expected to stabilize and begin its economic comeback in 2014. A poll of 35 economists and strategists suggested an expected growth rate of 0.3% for the Greek economy, while analysts at the International Monetary Fund and European Union proposed a slightly more optimistic 0.6% rate.

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With organizations and supply chains becoming more and more global, international travel for business professionals is increasing. The perks are growing your resume and seeing the world, but traveling across time zones on a regular basis tends to throw a person’s body out of whack. There have been many studies as to how one can minimize these effects, and the studies show the importance of getting on a precise schedule while traveling.

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Japanese consumers rushed to local retailers on March 31 to purchase large numbers of goods. Even online retailers, such as “Aksul”, had their systems overloaded by the high volumes of transactions of basic goods such as toilet paper and instant rice. Why were the Japanese people in such a hurry to purchase these products? This is due to the sales tax hike from 5 to 8 percent, which was implemented the day after, April 1.

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File under: Small Business, Exporting

Exporting has become a major source of growth for businesses of all sizes, but especially for small businesses.  In the United States, a large percentage of the labor force is made up of small business employees.  Export growth can enable these companies to grow in size, which creates a need for more workers.  Exporting also allows businesses to diversify their customer bases, which can protect companies in times of regional or country-specific economic contraction.

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On Thursday, Greece held its first bond sale since 2010, raising $4.2 billion as investors flocked to secure bonds from the hard hit country. Greece, which stopped issuing bonds in 2010 amid their country’s economic crisis, has hailed this bond sale as a sign that the country is recovering and heading in the right direction. Investors seemed to agree with this outlook, as their high demand reduced the return rates on the bonds to 4.95%, lower than the Greek government had first anticipated. The optimism around the bond sale has encouraged some that Greece is finally beginning to emerge from the financial crisis, although it must be remembered that this is only a small step in the recovery.

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