Regional Economic Outlook

These reports discuss recent economic developments and prospects for countries in various regions. They also address economic policy developments that have affected economic performance in the regions, and discuss key challenges faced by policymakers. They address regional policy developments and challenges, and provide country-specific data and analysis, including through analytical pieces on issues of interest to a particular region.

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October 2021

Regional Economic Outlook for Western Hemisphere, October 2021

October 21, 2021

Description: An economic recovery is underway in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) but the pandemic still casts shadows on much of the region. The recovery was robust in the first quarter of 2021 but lost momentum in some countries in the second quarter, reflecting the rebound in COVID-19 cases. Real GDP is projected to grow by 6.3 percent in 2021, followed by a more moderate growth of 3 percent in 2022, but would not catch up with pre-pandemic trends in the medium term as persistent weakness in labor markets raises risks of scarring. Broadly favorable external conditions, high commodity prices, and pent-up demand support short-term growth, while monetary and fiscal policy reversals work in the other direction. Risks to the outlook are tilted downward. Main downside risks are the emergence of more transmissible and deadlier COVID-19 variants, tightening of global financial conditions, sovereign debt rollover risks, and social unrest as a year with heavy election schedule looms. Fiscal policy should allocate sufficient resources for health spending, including vaccination, and continue to support households and firms in a more targeted fashion while the pandemic persists, backed by credible assurances of medium-term debt sustainability to maintain access to finance. Monetary policy has started to address inflationary pressures but should continue to support economic activity insofar as the dynamics of inflation expectations permit. Financial policy should shift from blanket support to targeted support of viable firms, to ensure that necessary labor and capital reallocations are not hindered. Supply-side policies should foster inclusive growth, including through progressive and growth-friendly tax reforms and measures to intensify climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, October 2021

October 21, 2021

Description: The world remains in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic and a seemingly accelerating pace of climate change, both of which underscore the need for increased global cooperation and dialogue. Solutions to these global problems must involve all countries and all regions, especially sub-Saharan Africa, with the world’s least vaccinated population, most promising renewable energy potential, and critical ecosystems. Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy is set to expand by 3.7 percent in 2021 and 3.8 percent in 2022. This follows the sharp contraction in 2020 and is much welcome, but still represents the slowest recovery relative to other regions.

Regional Economic Outlook for Europe, October 2021

October 20, 2021

Description: An increasingly resilient recovery is taking hold in Europe, buttressed by gradual increases in vaccination rates and mobility. Strongly accommodative macroeconomic policies and COVID-19 support schemes have paved the way for the recovery by helping preserve employment relationships and protecting private sector balance sheets. However, uncertainty remains elevated, not least because of the risk of new infection waves and virus variants amid uneven vaccination rates across countries. It is therefore imperative to continue increasing vaccinations, notably in emerging European economies, and to strongly support international efforts to speed up vaccine access globally.

Regional Economic Outlook for Asia and Pacific, October 2021

October 19, 2021

Description:

The Asian outlook for 2021 has been downgraded by more than 1 percent to 6.5 percent compared with the April 2021 World Economic Outlook because of new peaks of the pandemic cycle driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. As vaccination rates accelerate, the region is expected to grow slightly faster in 2022 than anticipated earlier. Although Asia and Pacific remains the fastest growing region in the world, the divergence between Asian advanced economies and emerging market and developing economies is deepening, reflecting vaccination coverage and policy support, and medium-term output levels in emerging market and developing economies are expected to remain below pre-pandemic trends. Risks are tilted to the downside, mainly because of uncertain pandemic dynamics, vaccine efficacy against virus variants, supply chain disruptions, and potential global financial spillovers from US monetary normalization in the presence of domestic financial vulnerabilities.

Regional Economic Outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia

October 19, 2021

Description: A fragile recovery continues in the Middle East and Central Asia region. The region has made good progress since the beginning of the year, but new challenges have emerged. They include a pandemic wave in countries with weak vaccination progress and rising inflation, which has contributed to declining monetary policy space, adding to the difficulties posed by limited fiscal policy space. Additionally, divergent recoveries and concerns about economic scarring persist. Inequities are also on the rise, and countries will need to tackle the pandemic’s impact on debt, labor markets, and the corporate sector. Countries will face difficult tradeoffs amid this challenging environment as they continue to manage the current crisis. Ramping up vaccine acquisition and distribution remains the most urgent short-term priority. Additional support should be well targeted, and central banks may need to raise interest rates if inflation expectations start to increase. Improving policy frameworks will be important to reduce policy tradeoffs. Preparing for a new chapter by investing in a transformational recovery will be vital to the region’s future. Important priorities include reorienting the role of the state toward health, education, and social safety nets; leveraging global trends like digitalization; and investing in climate-resilient technology.

April 2021

Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, April 2021

April 15, 2021

Description: Despite turning out better than expected, growth in 2020 is estimated to be the worst on record, at –1.9 percent, leading to a large increase in poverty. In 2021, the region’s economy is expected to resume expansion at 3.4 percent, weaker than the 6 percent for the rest of the world, amid a continued lack of access to vaccines and limited policy space to support the crisis response and recovery. Macroeconomic policies will in many countries entail some difficult choices. Saving lives remains the first priority, which will require access to affordable vaccines, ensuring that the logistical and administrative prerequisites of a vaccination rollout are in place, targeted containment efforts, and added spending to strengthen local health systems. The next priority is to unlock the region’s potential by creating more fiscal space and implementing transformative reforms. These include mobilizing domestic revenue, strengthening social protection, promoting digitalization, and improving transparency and governance. Countries will also have to consolidate their fiscal positions to bring debt back on a sustainable footing. Such measures will help lift longer-term growth and provide opportunities for the region’s new job seekers. The international community has a key role to play by ensuring more equitable and quicker access to vaccines and other medical products; and by providing low-income countries the external funding needed to pursue the policy priorities sketched above and avoid long-term scarring.

Regional Economic Outlook for Asia and Pacific

April 13, 2021

Description: The Asian economic recovery stands out because of prompt and effective policies during pandemic’s acute phase. The next phase is even more challenging: to lay the foundation for a more inclusive, greener, and resilient region.

Regional Economic Outlook for Europe | April 2021

April 12, 2021

Description: With new waves of COVID-19 infections hitting Europe, the recovery remains halting. However, vaccinations are progressing and thus Europe’s GDP growth is projected to rebound by 4.5 percent in 2021. The main priority is to quickly ramp up the production and administration of vaccines. At the same time, policymakers need to continue providing emergency support to households and firms. And they need to prepare measures to stimulate hiring and investment once the pandemic is under control. Such measures will foster a quicker and fuller recovery, by reducing scarring from unemployment, missed education and training, and low investment.

Regional Economic Outlook: Arising from the Pandemic: Building Forward Better

April 11, 2021

Description: A year into the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the race between vaccine and virus entered a new phase in the Middle East and Central Asia region, and the path to recovery in 2021 is expected to be long and divergent. The outlook will vary significantly across countries, depending on the pandemic’s path, vaccine rollouts, underlying fragilities, exposure to tourism and contact-intensive sectors, and policy space and actions. Public gross financing needs in most emerging markets in the region are expected to remain elevated in 2021–22, with downside risks in the event of tighter global financial conditions and/or if fiscal consolidation is delayed due to weaker-than-expected recovery. 2021 will be the year of policies that continue saving lives and livelihoods and promote recovery, while balancing the need for debt sustainability and financial resilience. At the same time, policymakers must not lose sight of the transformational challenges to build forward better and accelerate the creation of more inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and green economies. Regional and international cooperation will be key complements to strong domestic policies.

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