When Islam Karimov suddenly died last September after 25 years at the helm of Uzbekistan, a veteran emerging market expert told anxious portfolio investors that he remained confident about his assets in that small Central Asian economy.
Events since then seem to have vindicated that view - an interesting counterpoint to purveyors of instability scenarios in the region known for "great power games" and, more recently, for "grand chessboard" geopolitical pontifications.
That emerging market expert will probably be also rubbing his hands when he sees that Bangladeshis are now building a 6.15 kilometer (4 mile) "dream bridge" on the Padma River to "Sonar Bangla" – a dream of the country's strength and prosperity. In a nation of 250 rivers, this bridge will make obsolete, accident-prone ferry transportation (which takes hundreds of lives each year) between the capital Dhaka and the southern regions of Bangladesh.
Vast development efforts
This $3 billion bridge is part of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, and one of the key projects underpinning the country's ambition to become a middle-income economy by 2021 and a developed economy by 2041. And that is Bangladesh, with a per capita GDP currently estimated at $3,600.00, and a country expected to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.
Emerging market investors can also think of the rapidly developing Central and East Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Mongolia. All these economies are benefiting from trade and investments generated by China's Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative, and the markets of 625 million people in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and 182 million people in the Eurasian Economic Union (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan).
Several attempts are currently under way to enlarge and strengthen the flows of trade and finance within that vast economic system that will also include India and Iran.