UN's survey on Asia notes progress, poverty

Poverty, unemployment, and chronic trade deficits are plaguing the countries of South Asia, according to a new survey by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Economic conditions have improved in the war-ravaged communist countries of Indochina, but the report said mass starvation in some areas could be avoided only by massive food imports.

Countries of South Asia -- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka -- are among the poorest in the world, with annual per capita incomes ranging from $80 in Bhutan to $260 in Pakistan.

One bright spot in the region was the record of the five member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The report said Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, as well as Burma, Hong Kong and South Korea had maintained strong rates of economic growth - from five percent in the Philippines to 10 percent in Hong Kong - in the midst of world recession.

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