PETALING JAYA: The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) is forecasting the region’s economy to expand 5.7% this year and 4.1% in 2022, but growth is expected to be uneven.
The Apec Policy Support Unit, in an update of its Regional Trends Analysis, is also estimating a lower regional economic contraction of 2% in 2020 – an improvement from the forecast of a 2.5% decline it made in November last year.
The 2020 contraction was equal to an output loss of US$1.5 trillion, down from the earlier-projected US$1.8 trillion loss, it said in a statement published on Apec’s official website.
“The rebound in economic activity in the second half of 2020 and the continuation of fiscal and monetary support by member economies have brought about a slight improvement in the region’s economic growth, ” it said.
Apec Policy Support Unit director Denis Hew said governments around the region continued to mitigate the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic with a series of stimulus measures, including liquidity support and loan moratoriums extended to businesses, as well as cash handouts and wide-ranging subsidies to households.
“These measures stimulate domestic consumption as economies reopen gradually, ” he said.
Despite the slight uptick in 2020’s economic growth and a relatively optimistic outlook for 2021 and 2022, the report noted that growth would be uneven across Apec economies, with the speed and strength of the recovery largely determined by the effective management of the pandemic and successful vaccination programmes.
Apec Policy Support Unit researcher Rhea C Hernando, who updated the report, said different levels of access and schedules as to when at least between 60% and 70% of the population would be vaccinated would eventually affect the timing of economic and border reopening. This would translate into diverging speeds of economic recovery across the region, she said.
The report noted that several Apec economies could achieve widespread vaccination as early as the latter part of this year, with 10 other members by mid-2022.
“There is an urgent need for closer cooperation between policymakers and the private sector to educate the public about the efficacy of each vaccine, in order to combat misinformation and encourage higher vaccine uptake, ” Hernando added. ─ Bernama