World Bank East Asia and Pacific Economic Update

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The World Bank East Asia and Pacific Economic Update is the World Bank's comprehensive, twice-yearly review of the region's economies prepared by the East Asia and Pacific regional unit of the World Bank.

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  • Publication
    East Asia and the Pacific Economic Update, April 2024: Firm Foundations of Growth
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-04-01) World Bank
    Most economies in developing East Asia and Pacific (EAP) are growing faster than the rest of the world but slower than before the pandemic. Slowing global growth, still tight financial conditions, and an increase in trade protection and industrial support in large and rich countries are key aspects of the external environment shaping the region’s economic performance. Amplified public and private debt, constrained macroeconomic policy, and increased policy uncertainty are the major domestic issues. EAP’s current macroeconomic challenges risk obscuring the microeconomic foundations of longer-term growth. Over the last decade, EAP’s growth has been driven by investment and capital deepening rather than by increased productivity of firms. Now private investment is weak and productivity declining–further inhibiting the incentive to invest. Firms are the protagonists of productivity growth. Some of the weaker firms in EAP countries are beginning to catch up with stronger firms. But the stronger firms in the region are failing to take full advantage of new technologies: regional leaders risk becoming global laggards. Bold policy action to unleash competition, improve infrastructure and reform education with measured state support could revitalize the region’s economy.
  • Publication
    World Bank East Asia and the Pacific Economic Update, October 2023: Services for Development
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-10-01) World Bank
    Economic activity in developing East Asia and Pacific has recovered from the recent shocks and is growing. However, output remains below pre-pandemic levels in many countries and inflation remains higher than target ranges in some countries. Near-term growth will depend on the dynamics of global growth and commodity prices, and financial tightening, which is likely to continue in the face of high inflation in the US. Taking a long-term view, growth in EAP has been faster and more stable than in much of the rest of the world. The result has been a striking decline in poverty and, in the last decade, also a decline in inequality. But it would be a mistake to let these achievements obscure vulnerabilities, past, present, and future. The region must implement structural, macro-financial, and climate-related reforms to address the problems of slowing productivity growth and scars from the pandemic, even as it faces up to the major challenges of deglobalization, aging and climate change.
  • Publication
    World Bank East Asia and the Pacific Economic Update, April 2023: Reviving Growth
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-03-31) World Bank
    Economic activity in developing East Asia and Pacific has recovered from the recent shocks and is growing. However, output remains below pre-pandemic levels in many countries and inflation remains higher than target ranges in some countries. Near-term growth will depend on the dynamics of global growth and commodity prices, and financial tightening, which is likely to continue in the face of high inflation in the US. Taking a long-term view, growth in EAP has been faster and more stable than in much of the rest of the world. The result has been a striking decline in poverty and, in the last decade, also a decline in inequality. But it would be a mistake to let these achievements obscure vulnerabilities, past, present, and future. The region must implement structural, macro-financial, and climate-related reforms to address the problems of slowing productivity growth and scars from the pandemic, even as it faces up to the major challenges of deglobalization, aging and climate change.
  • Publication
    World Bank East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, October 2022: Reforms for Recovery
    (Washington, DC : World Bank, 2022-10) World Bank
    Growth in most countries in the East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) region rebounded in the first half of 2022, but China lost momentum. In much of the region, domestic demand revived after the distress of the COVID-19 Delta wave. In China, the public health measures to contain outbreaks of the highly infectious Omicron variant inhibited consumption. Most of the region is projected to grow faster and have lower inflation in 2022 than other regions. Beyond the end of 2022, three factors could be a drag on growth: global deceleration, rising debt, and policy distortions. Current measures to contain inflation and debt are adding to existing distortions in the markets for food, fuel and finance in ways that could hurt growth. In each case, more efficient measures could address current difficulties without undermining longer-term objectives.
  • Publication
    World Bank East Asia and Pacific Economic Update - Spring 2022
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-04-04) World Bank
    Amidst a fragile recovery, three clouds are gathering over the economic horizon: US inflation could provoke financial tightening, China’s structural slowdown and zero-COVID-19 policy could dampen regional exports, and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could disrupt food and fuel supplies, spook financial markets, and undermine business confidence. Counterposed against these risks, are three opportunities. First, shifts in the patterns of comparative advantage are creating new niches in both goods and services trade. Second, the diffusion of technologies could boost productivity. Finally, new green technologies could allow countries to cut carbon emissions without unacceptable cuts in consumption or growth. Accordingly, policy action must help countries to both affect the risk and grasp the opportunities. We begin by addressing three proximate questions: What is happening to the economies? Why? And what can we expect? We then discuss the policy options that can help East Asia and Pacific economies weather the shocks and ensure sustainable growth.
  • Publication
    World Bank East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, October 2021: Long COVID
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-09-27) World Bank
    The East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region is suffering a reversal of fortune. In 2020, many EAP countries successfully contained COVID-19 and economic activity swiftly revived as other regions struggled with the pandemic and economic recession. Now the region is being hit hard by the COVID-19 Delta variant while many advanced economies are on the path to economic recovery. The disease is damaging the economy and is unlikely to disappear in the foreseeable future. In the near term, the persistence of the pandemic will prolong human and economic distress unless individuals and firms can adapt. In the longer term, COVID-19 will reduce growth and increase inequality unless the scars are remedied and the opportunities grasped. Policy action must help economic agents to adjust today and make choices that avert deceleration and disparity tomorrow.
  • Publication
    World Bank East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, April 2021: Uneven Recovery
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-03-25) World Bank
    A year after the first case was confirmed in Wuhan COVID-19 is proving hard to suppress even, while the emergence of more transmissible variants of the variant poses new challenges to the containment of the disease globally. The economies of the region began to bounce back in the second half of 2020. However, only China and Vietnam have followed a V-shape recovery path with output surpassing pre-COVID-19 levels. Most of the other countries have not seen a full-fledged recovery in terms of either output or growth momentum. Economic performance across countries continues to depend on (i) the efficiency with which the virus is contained; (ii) the ability to take advantage of the revival in international goods trade; and (iii) the capacity of governments to provide fiscal and monetary support. China and Vietnam are expected to enjoy strong growth in 2021, whereas other economies in the region will grow more gradually. Many economies, especially in the Pacific islands are not expected to reach pre-COVID-19 levels of output until 2022 or later. Governments in the region need to work cooperatively to address three key issues: (i) a regional and global distribution of vaccines that minimizes the risk of a continued spread of COVID-19 and its variants; (ii) continue to provide economic support to their economies while carefully evaluating the trade-offs between the need for further stimulus and debt sustainability; and (iii) enact policies and prioritize investments that protect against climate risk to ensure sustainable economic growth.
  • Publication
    World Bank East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, October 2020: From Containment to Recovery
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-09-28) World Bank
    COVID-19 has delivered a triple shock to the developing East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region: the pandemic itself, the economic impact of containment measures, and reverberations from the global recession. Without action on multiple fronts, the pandemic could reduce regional growth over the next decade by 1 percentage point per year, with the greatest impacts being felt by poor households, because of lower levels of access to healthcare, education, jobs, and finance. Why were many economies in the region able to contain the disease while some others still struggle? How have these shocks affected economic activity and poverty in different countries? What are the prospects for recovery and how will longer term growth be affected across the region? Is there a tension between containing the disease and providing relief today and promoting recovery and growth tomorrow? These key questions are addressed in the World Bank’s October 2020 EAP Economic Update.
  • Publication
    World Bank East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, April 2020: East Asia and Pacific in the Time of COVID-19
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-03-30) World Bank
    The COVID-19 virus that triggered a supply shock in China has now caused a global shock. Developing economies in East Asia and the Pacific (EAP), recovering from a trade war and struggling with a viral disease, now face the prospect of a global financial shock and recession. Significant economic pain seems unavoidable in all countries and the risk of financial instability is high, especially in countries with excessive private indebtedness. Several economies are expected to contract in 2020, which will lead to an increase in the poverty rate. Households linked to affected sectors will suffer more. To deal with this crisis, countries need to act fast and decisively to contain the spread of infection, while expanding capacity both to treat people and to test and trace infections. Fiscal measures should provide social protection to cushion against shocks, especially for the most economically vulnerable. Firms will need liquidity injections to help them stay in business and maintain beneficial links to Global Value Chains. The optimal economic policy response will change over time and depend on the precise nature and evolution of the shock. Given the unprecedented nature of the economic shock to each country, and the fact that it is also affecting all other countries in the region and beyond, an exceptional policy response is needed.
  • Publication
    World Bank East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, October 2019: Weathering Growing Risks
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-10-09) World Bank
    Growth in the developing East Asia and Pacific region slowed in the first half of 2019 given weakening global demand and heightened policy uncertainty amid ongoing trade tensions. Steady consumption growth helped to partly offset the effects of weakening exports and investment on growth. The region’s growth prospects face intensified downside risks, including further escalation of trade disputes, a sharper-than-expected slowdown in China, the United States and the Euro Area, along with a disorderly Brexit, and an abrupt change in global financing conditions. In some countries, rising indebtedness and other vulnerabilities, such as the constrained capacity for foreign debt rollover, could amplify the negative effects of external shocks. The regional growth moderation underscores the need to address key vulnerabilities and preserve economic dynamism among developing East Asia and Pacific economies. In the short run, countries with sufficient policy space should use available policy tools to stimulate domestic activities. Better quality spending, together with prudent debt management, is needed to safeguard fiscal sustainability. Deepening regional integration would help offset the negative impact of global protectionism. In the medium to long term, pursuing structural reforms that raise competitiveness, support trade and investment, and encourage innovation is critical to boosting productivity and growth.