Tens of millions of people living in East Asian and the Pacific countries would have risen out of poverty this year. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.
This is according to “From Containment to Recovery,” the latest report from World Bank, which assesses the damage the pandemic has caused in the East Asian and Pacific (EAP) region and considers possible roads to recovery.
The results? Poverty in EAP countries is expected to go up for the first time in 20 years. Not only will millions remain in poverty who previously would have escaped it, but many who, before the pandemic, were not thought at risk are now also likely to join their ranks.
While outbreaks remain significant in Indonesia and the Philippines, the region has been relatively successful in containing the spread of the virus. At the same time, these countries were hit by what the World Bank has called as a “triple shock” consisting of the pandemic itself, the economic impact of shutdowns, and the resulting global recession.
The regional economy is now only expected to grow 0.9% this year, its lowest rate since 1967. Factoring out China, where early and strict containment measures have allowed a decent return to economic activity and an expected 2% growth in national GDP this year, the rest of the region can expect a contraction in GDP of 3.5% in 2020, the World Bank said.