September 16: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt global economic activity, developing Asia's gross domestic product (GDP) is now expected to contract by 0.7% in 2020, according to the Asian Development Outlook 2020.
The report published by the Asian Development Bank on September 15 states that it is the region's first recession in nearly 6 decades.
However, the GDP is projected to grow by 6.8% in 2021.
“Excluding high-income newly industrialized economies, regional GDP is expected to contract by 0.5% this year before growing by 7.2% next year,” states the report.
Softening demand and subdued food prices will keep inflation benign. The inflation forecast is revised down from 3.2% to 2.9% for 2020 and maintained at 2.3% for 2021.
The threat of a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and a return to more stringent containment measures is the main risk to the outlook. While economies in developing Asia remain resilient, continued policy support is needed to underpin recovery, the report further states.
Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal managed to grow in their recently completed fiscal years because COVID-19 affected only their tail end, says the report. They are set to continue expanding in the current fiscal year, though only minimally for Bhutan and Nepal.
Inflationary pressures have begun to intensify in South Asia, especially in India, as supply chain disruption pushed up food prices.
The outlook says physical and mental health is vital to post-pandemic recovery. The report’s theme chapter explores wellness, or the pursuit of holistic health and well-being. It examines the state of wellness in Asia and the Pacific and its growing role in the region’s economy. It discusses how policy makers can promote wellness by creating healthy living environments, encouraging physical activity and healthy diets, and enhancing workplace wellness.