Although the outlook for global growth has improved, the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with insufficient progress on immunization in the poorest countries, put the recovery at risk, according to the latest economic forecasts from UN, published Tuesday.
The State and Prospect of the World Economy (WESP) mid-year report warned that widening inequalities threaten global growth, projected at 5.4% this year.
Access to vaccines is essential
âVaccine inequality between countries and regions poses a significant risk to an already uneven and fragile global recovery,â said UN chief economist Elliott Harris.
“Timely and universal access to COVID-19[female[feminine vaccinations will make the difference between ending the pandemic quickly and putting the global economy on the path of a resilient recovery, or losing many years of growth, development and opportunity. ”
The mid-year forecast updates the WESP report released in January by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
It examines the performance of the global economy since the onset of the pandemic, as well as the impact of global policy responses and post-crisis recovery scenarios.
A mixed picture
The 5.4% global growth projected this year follows a sharp 3.6% contraction in 2020 and reflects an upward revision from initial forecasts.
While the world’s two largest economies – China and the United States – are on the road to recovery, growth remains fragile and uncertain in several countries in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Many countries will not see economic output return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022 or 2023.
âFor a large majority of developing countries, economic output will remain below 2019 levels for most of 2021,â the authors said. “With insufficient fiscal space to stimulate demand, many of these countries will face weak and stagnant growth and the prospect of a lost decade.”
Strong but uneven trade
The report also details a strong but uneven recovery in global trade, which has already exceeded pre-pandemic levels due to demand for electrical and electronic equipment, personal protective equipment and other manufactured goods.
Economies that depend on manufacturing have held up better, but countries that depend on tourism or commodities are unlikely to experience a rapid rebound.
Tourism services in particular will remain depressed due to the slow lifting of restrictions on international travel, coupled with fears of new waves of COVID-19 infection.
Women are the most affected
The pandemic has pushed an estimated 114.4 million people into extreme poverty, with women accounting for about 58 million of that total.
The report found that while women have been at the forefront of the crisis –
representing most health workers, caregivers and essential service providers – they have also been hardest hit in several ways.
During the pandemic, the participation rate fell by 2% globally, down from just 0.2% during the global financial crisis of 2007-8, but more women than men were forced to leave their jobs to meet family requirements. Women-owned businesses have also seen disproportionate results, according to the report.
COVID-19 has also taken a heavy toll on women’s health and reproductive health services, and the disruption of education has helped undermine global progress towards gender equality. There has also been a spike in gender-based violence, which UN Women called it a âphantom pandemicâ.
Ensure inclusive recovery
Given that women are also under-represented in decision-making regarding the pandemic and in economic policy responses, the report underscored why the recovery must be inclusive.
âThe pandemic has pushed nearly 58 million women and girls into extreme poverty, striking a blow to poverty reduction efforts around the world, and exacerbating gender gaps in income, wealth and poverty. education, hampering progress on gender equality, âsaid Hamid Rashid, head of the Global Economic Monitoring Branch at DESA, and lead author of the report.
“Fiscal and monetary measures to guide the recovery must take into account the differentiated impact of the crisis on different population groups, including women, to ensure an inclusive and resilient economic recovery.”