Near-term macroeconomic prospects continue to improve in the context of higher oil prices and a gradual global recovery from the pandemic shock, but the medium-term outlook remains challenging and highly uncertain. Oil production remains muted, debt and inflation remain elevated, and non-oil activity is expected to recover only gradually. However, continued strong fiscal performance (aided by higher oil revenues), exchange rate stabilization, and a return to positive non-oil growth would contribute to a reduction in the debt-to-GDP ratio this year, easing debt vulnerabilities.
Recent economic developments. Supported by a large policy package, Serbia’s economy rebounded quickly from the initial COVID-19 shock, recording a 1 percent contraction of real GDP in 2020. Job losses have mostly been contained to the informal sector, thanks to policy measures aimed at preserving formal employment. A supplementary budget for 2021 was adopted in April boosting capital expenditure and extending policy support to households and corporates, against the background of third and fourth waves of infections and related containment measures, as well as a weaker-than-expected economic recovery in key trading partners. Inflation remains low. After rising again in late February, infections tapered, helped by new containment measures and the rapid vaccine rollout.
Switzerland has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic well. The pandemic has had major social and economic impacts, but an early, strong, and sustained health and economic policy response helped contain the contraction of activity. Coordinated efforts targeting households and firms stemmed a loss of purchasing power and a rise of unemployment and bankruptcies. Recovery has commenced, but uncertainty and risks remain high, dominated by pandemic dynamics. The rebound should deepen, as vaccination proceeds, containment is eased, and domestic and global demand picks up. Fiscal support has been rightly extended in 2021, and monetary policy remains accommodative. Policies should remain supportive until there are clear signs of sustained recovery; the authorities should expand support if needed. Redirection to fostering green, digital transformation with attention to low-income earners will be needed, including to ensure that prolonged emergency support does not hinder structural changes in the economy.