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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Western Hemisphere Region

Sub-Saharan Africa

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.

Europe

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.

Middle East and Central Asia

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.

Western Hemisphere Region

Sub-Saharan Africa

Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa

October 22, 2020

Description: Sub-Saharan Africa is contending with an unprecedented health and economic crisis— one that, in just a few months, has jeopardized years of hard-won development gains and upended the lives and livelihoods of millions. The current outlook for 2020–21 is broadly unchanged from the June update, with activity in 2020 projected to contract by 3.0 percent, still the worst outcome on record. For 2021, regional growth should recover modestly to 3.1 percent.

Asia and Pacific Region

Navigating the Pandemic: A Multispeed Recovery in Asia

October 21, 2020

Description: Asia-Pacific has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and is recovering from a severe recession. The outlook varies by country depending on infection rates and containment measures, policy responses, reliance on contact-intensive activities, and external demand. Output is expected to remain below pre-pandemic trends over the medium term, with the most vulnerable in society likely to be hit the hardest. The projections remain highly uncertain, with significant downside risks.

Europe

Regional Economic Outlook for Europe, Fall 2020

October 21, 2020

Description: The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Europe particularly hard — we project that the economic contraction in 2020 will be among the world's largest. Countries in Europe responded swiftly to the pandemic, which helped avoid worse outcomes. A decisive policy response protected incomes and the productive capacity of the economy. Across Europe, governments deployed large fiscal packages to support households and firms, with job retention programs preserving at least 54 million jobs. But the outlook for 2020 remains bleak and the recovery will be partial and uneven. We project that economic activity in Europe this year will decline by 7% and rebound by 4.7% in 2021. The recovery path is exceptionally uncertain. The ongoing resurgence of infections across Europe presents perhaps the greatest downside risk at this stage. Learn more, download our new Regional Economic Outlook for Europe.

Middle East and Central Asia

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia

October 19, 2020

Description: Countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) region and those in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with swift and stringent measures to mitigate its spread and impact but continue to face an uncertain and difficult environment. Oil exporters were particularly hard hit by a “double-whammy” of the economic impact of lockdowns and the resulting sharp decline in oil demand and prices. Containing the health crisis, cushioning income losses, and expanding social spending remain immediate priorities. However, governments must also begin to lay the groundwork for recovery and rebuilding stronger, including by addressing legacies from the crisis and strengthening inclusion.

Regional Economic Outlook Update: Middle East and Central Asia

July 13, 2020

Description: The Middle East and Central Asia (MCD) region has reacted to the global COVID-19 pandemic with swift and stringent measures that have saved lives. However, these policies have also had a large impact on domestic economic activity. With several countries in the region beginning reopening in past weeks, and a recent uptick in activity, rising infection numbers may pose risks. A sharp decline in oil prices together with production cuts among oil exporters and disruptions in trade and tourism added further headwinds. As a result, growth in the region is now projected at –4.7 percent in 2020, 2 percentage points lower than in April 2020. The unusually high level of uncertainty regarding the length of the pandemic and its impact on firm closures, the resulting downside risks (including social unrest and political instability), and potential renewed volatility in global oil markets dominate the outlook. The pandemic will continue to test countries’ health capacity and economic resilience. While ensuring strong health systems remains the immediate priority, governments should also focus on supporting the recovery and setting up resilient and well-targeted social safety nets. As the pandemic wanes, countries should facilitate recovery by easing the reallocation of workers and resources, as needed, while resuming gradual fiscal adjustment and rebuilding policy buffers. Multilateral support can play a key role in helping countries surmount these shocks.

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