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ADB further downgrades Pacific growth expectations

Economic growth expectations for the Pacific have been downgraded to decline by 6.1% for 2020.

The Asian Development Bank had originally forecast a 4.3% decline in July of this year.

“Vaccine procurement and distribution, safe travel arrangements, and continuing to strengthen health and social protection systems will all be key to ensuring the region’s recovery is sustainable,” said ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez.

For now the ADB is projecting growth of 1.3% for the region next year, but its Pacific Economic Monitor released today states that depends on early lifting of trael and trade restrictions.

The ADB predicts Papua New Guinea’s economy will contract by 2.9% in Papua New Guinea, with low growth of 2.5% in 2021.

In Fiji, the economy is projected to contract by 19.8%, and recover by 1% next year, if the country opens up to tourists in the second half of 2021.

For the Cook Islands, the ADB expects GDP to contract by 15.4% next year, even with a resumption of tourism.

The ADB says fiscal pressures seem to be mounting in Vanuatu, and that expanding seasonal worker schemes would “substantially allevaiate economic pressures” for Samoa and Tonga.

It states targeted efforts are needed to improve fiscal buffers and collected revenue in Solomon Islands, and that the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands have been more affected by the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic than initial estimates. “Measures to safeguard public health, provide training and education, and protect the vulnerable will help those countries avoid the spread of the disease and lay the foundations for a strong and sustainable economic recovery.”

For Kiribati and Tuvalu, the ADB says more information on vulnerable groups would help better targeting of social assistance measures.

The full report can be viewed at https://www.adb.org/publications/series/pacific-economic-monitor

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