'Developing Asia' to shrink for first time in 6 decades

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"Georgia has adopted several measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy including easing bank regulations and tax collection, broadening social packages, a cautious reopening of businesses and the promotion of internal tourism", said ADB Country Director for Georgia Shane Rosenthal.

For the 2021-22 fiscal, S&P expects economic growth at 10 per cent.

The coronavirus pandemic will cause economic output in "developing Asia" to shrink for the first time in almost six decades in 2020 before it bounces back next year, the Asian Development Bank said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the report said, as the pandemic persists, developing Asia is projected to contract by 0.7 per cent in 2020-the first regional GDP contraction since the early 1960s. The 6.1% growth for China's economy in 2019 was the slowest pace in decades.

Growth is forecast to speed up to 7.7 per cent in 2021, up from a earlier forecast of seven.4 per cent.

India's economic growth will contract by 9 per cent in the current fiscal as the coronavirus pandemic weighs heavily on economic activity and consumer sentiment in the country.

Rising non-performing loans caused by the pandemic that could further weaken the financial sector and its ability to support economic growth, while increasing public and private debt levels could affect technology and infrastructure investment, ADB cautioned.

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Inflation is expected to moderate to 5.5 percent and current account deficit is likely to narrow to 1.1 percent of GDP in FY 2021.

"Consistent and coordinated steps to address the pandemic, with policy priorities focusing on protecting lives and livelihoods of people who are already most vulnerable, and ensuring the safe return to work and restart of business activities, will continue to be crucial to ensure the region's eventual recovery is inclusive and sustainable", Sawada added.

According to the ADO, the main risk to this growth projection is a prolonged pandemic in Bangladesh or its export destinations.

In its latest update to Asian Development Outlook, ADB said the outbreak in India has intensified since April, spreading fast from cities to rural areas.

Developing Asia - stretching from the Cook Islands in the Pacific to Kazakhstan in Central Asia - is expected to contract in 2020 for the first time in almost six decades, throwing tens of millions of people into poverty, the Philippines-based lender said.

The report revised the Philippines' inflation forecasts to 2.4 per cent in 2020 and 2.6 per cent in 2021, compared with the April projections of 2.2 per cent and 2.4 per cent, respectively, as global oil prices stabilise.

The update to ADO 2020 features a theme chapter, Wellness in Worrying Times, which discusses the importance of wellness as communities recover from COVID-19's toll on physical and mental health.

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