The Asia-Pacific region expects to rebound this year from last year’s economic slump, but countries with higher vaccination rates will recover faster compared to those lagging behind, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) said on November 8.
“In the year-and-a-half since the global pandemic started, the Asia-Pacific economy has undergone an extraordinary decline but is set to post a sharp recovery this year thanks to unprecedented policy support and the remarkable innovation and manufacture of vaccines,” the non-profit, policy-oriented regional organisation PECC said in its State of the Region 2021-2022 report.
PECC expects Asia-Pacific as a whole to expand its gross domestic product (GDP) by 6.1 per cent this year and 5.1 per cent next year, better than the growth estimates of five per cent for 2021 and four per cent for 2022 projected last year.
PECC said stimulus measures as well as mass vaccination augured well for regional economic recovery, even as a recent resurgence in infections due to the more contagious Delta variant plus global supply-side constraints tempered growth expectations for this year.
“While all economies are expected to bounce back from last year’s nadirs, the robust recovery this year comes largely from those economies in the region that have been able to move ahead with vaccinating a large portion of their populations, notably China and the United States. Due to their economic weight and relatively rapid recoveries from the crisis, they are expected to account for 72 per cent of the region’s growth this year,” PECC said.
As of early last month, the highest vaccination rates among the member-states of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) were in Singapore, Chile, China, Canada and Cambodia, PECC noted.
The share of fully vaccinated people to the population was the lowest in Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, Vietnam, Taiwan and India. As of October 1, the Philippines’ 21.6-per cent vaccination rate was the seventh lowest in the region.
“It is also the nature of a pandemic shock where economies are temporarily shut down to stymie transmission and then re-opened. This recession is where the taps are turned off by lockdown and closed borders, and the waters of economic activity flow again quickly when the taps are turned on so long as there is no structural damage. The imperative for governments is to enable, and not impede, recovery,” PECC added.
Citing a survey it conducted from August 12 to September 17, PECC said the regional policy community deemed the Covid-19 pandemic as still the top risk to Asia-Pacific’s growth prospects.
“Dealing with the Covid-19 crisis must be a priority and [survey respondents] also believe that time is ripe to work out how to safely open borders to travel,” according to PECC.
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK