More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the developing economies of East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) are facing a markedly uneven recovery, according to the World Bank’ latest economic update released on Friday last week (26/3). Only China and Vietnam are experiencing a V-shaped rebound where output has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

In the other major economies, output remained on average around 5% below pre-pandemic levels. Hardest hit of all have been the Pacific Island countries. Economic performance has depended on the effectiveness of virus containment, the ability to take advantage of the revival of international trade, and the capacity of governments to provide fiscal and monetary support.

In 2020, poverty in the region stopped declining for the first time in decades. An estimated 32 million people in the region failed to escape at a poverty line of US$5.50 a day due to the pandemic.