China will buck the trend and is forecast to expand 1.8 per cent this year -- unchanged from June’s projection -- as successful public health measures provide a springboard for growth, according to the ADB. Growth is forecast to accelerate to 7.7 per cent in 2021, up from a previous forecast of 7.4 per cent.
In India, where lockdowns have stalled private spending, GDP will shrink by 9 per cent this year, sharply down from June’s forecast of -4 per cent, the ADB said. There were also big downgrades for the Philippines and Thailand, which are now projected to contract 7.3 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.
The downgrades took into account that the pandemic has been “more serious” than initially anticipated, Sawada said in an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg TV’s Haslinda Amin and Yvonne Man. “Having said that, our baseline assumption is that health risks will be basically contained within this year.”
“Large-scale” fiscal stimulus has helped cushion the blow and provides a base for a rebound, Sawada said.
Growth in Developing Asia -- a region that excludes advanced nations like Japan, Australia and New Zealand -- will rebound to 6.8 per cent in 2021, in part because it will be measured against a weak 2020, Sawada said. That will still leave next year’s level of GDP below pre-coronavirus projections, implying that the recovery is only “partial” and “not full.”
Virus containment “seems to be translated into growth performance,” and a prolonged pandemic remains the biggest downside risk this year and the next, he said.
US-China trade tensions and technology conflicts and financial vulnerabilities amid the pandemic also weigh on growth, Sawada said.
Policies focused on protecting lives and livelihoods, and ensuring a safe return to work and restart of businesses, are crucial to ensuring a sustained recovery for the region, he said.