The Asia-Pacific region was the first to be hit by the COVID-19 pandemic; it put a strain on its people and economies, and policymaking became exceptionally difficult. This departmental paper contains the assessment of the key challenges facing Asia at this critical juncture and policy advice to the region both to address the current challenges and to build the foundations for a more sustainable and inclusive future. The paper focuses on (1) adjusting to the COVID-19 shock, (2) using unconventional policies when policy space is limited, (3) dealing with debt, and (4) helping the vulnerable and greening the recovery. The paper first presents the different ways countries are adjusting to the COVID-19 shock.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Indonesia has responded with a bold and comprehensive policy package to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The economy rebounded in the third quarter of 2020, and the economic recovery is projected to strengthen in 2021 and 2022. Strong policy support and an improving global economy will be the main drivers initially, and greater mobility and confidence will follow with the planned vaccination program in 2021. The uncertainty surrounding the growth outlook is larger than usual. Early completion of a widespread vaccination program is an upside risk, while a protracted pandemic remains a downside risk. The macro-financial fallout of the pandemic and economic downturn could be larger than expected, and credit conditions could be slow to improve. Ongoing reforms aimed at promoting investment are expected to help mitigate the scarring effects from the pandemic and put the economy on a sustained growth path that builds on Indonesia’s favorable demographics.
The Nigerian economy is at a critical juncture. A weak pre-crisis economy characterized by falling per capita income, double-digit inflation, significant governance vulnerabilities and limited buffers, is grappling with multiple shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic. Real output is projected to contract by 3.2 percent in 2020, with a weak recovery likely to keep per capita income stagnant and no higher than the 2010 level in the medium term. Policy adjustment and reforms are urgently needed to navigate this crisis and change the long-running lackluster course.