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World Bank Tokyo Morning Seminar #125 “South Asia Economic Focus (SAEF) – Shifting Gears: Digitalization and Service-Led Development”

October 29, 2021

Tokyo, Japan


  • South Asia’s recovery continues as global demand rebounded and targeted containment measures helped minimize the economic impacts of the recent waves of COVID-19. But the recovery remains fragile and uneven, and most countries are far from pre-pandemic trend levels, says the World Bank in its twice-yearly regional update.

    The latest South Asia Economic Focus titled Shifting Gears: Digitization and Services-Led Development rojects the region to grow by 7.1 percent in 2021 and 2022. While the year-on-year growth remains strong in the region, albeit from a very low base in 2020, the recovery has been uneven across countries and sectors. South Asia’s average annual growth is forecast to be 3.4 percent over 2020-23, which is 3 percentage points less than it was in the four years preceding the pandemic.

    At this seminar, co-authors of the report, Zoe Leiyu Xie, Valerie Anne Mercer Blackman, and Siddharth Sharma, Senior Economists, Office of the Chief Economist for South Asia Region, presented the main findings.  


    8am-9am, October 29, 2021 (Japan Standard Time)



    Zoe Leiyu Xie 
    Senior Economist, Office of the Chief Economist for South Asia Region, World Bank

    Zoe Leiyu Xie is a Senior Economist at the Chief Economist Office for South Asia, where she works on the South Asia Economic Focus and contributes to analytical works on the region's macroeconomy. Before joining the World Bank in 2021, she spent four years as a Research Economist and Assistant Adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. She received her PhD in Economics from the University of Minnesota and BA in Economics and Mathematics from Williams College. She has published papers in peer reviewed journals, including the Journal of Monetary Economics and European Economic Review.


    Valerie Anne Mercer Blackman
    Senior Economist, Office of the Chief Economist for South Asia Region, World Bank

    Valerie Mercer-Blackman is a Senior Economist at the South Asia Office of the Chief Economist, currently focusing on policy-based research and regional trends in South Asia. Her recent published research focuses on diversification, trade FDI productivity in services and global value chains. Her past analytical work includes growth drivers, investment and fiscal issues in developing countries, particularly commodity exporters. Previously she worked as a macroeconomist at the Asian Development Bank; at the Caribbean Department of the Inter-American Development Bank and on Latin America at the International Monetary Fund. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University.


    Presentation material:

    Shifting Gears: Digitalization and Service-Led Development (PDF)


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  • DATE/TIME: 8am-9am, October 29, 2021 (JST)
  • LANGUAGE: English (no interpretation to Japanese)
  • CONTACT: Koichi Omori, World Bank Tokyo TEL: 03-3597-6650