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Economic Recovery Under Threat Amid Surging COVID Cases And Lagging Vaccination In Poorer Countries

New York, 11 May — While the global
growth outlook has improved, led by robust rebound in China
and the United States, surging COVID-19 infections and
inadequate vaccination progress in many countries threaten a
broad-based recovery of the world economy, says the latest
United Nations forecast released today.

According to
the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) mid-2021
report, following a sharp contraction of 3.6 per cent in
2020, the global economy is now projected to expand by 5.4
per cent in 2021, reflecting an upward revision from the UN
forecasts released in January. Amid rapid vaccinations and
continued fiscal and monetary support measures, China and
the United States – the two largest economies – are on
the path to recovery.

In contrast, the growth outlook
in several countries in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and
Latin America and the Caribbean, remains fragile and
uncertain. For many countries, economic output is only
projected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022 or

“Vaccine inequity between countries and
regions is posing a significant risk to an already uneven
and fragile global recovery,” said UN Chief Economist
Elliott Harris. “Timely and universal access to COVID-19
vaccinations will mean the difference between ending the
pandemic promptly and placing the world economy on the
trajectory of a resilient recovery, or losing many more
years of growth, development and

Strong but uneven recovery in
global trade

Global merchandise trade has already
surpassed pre-pandemic levels, buoyed by strong demand for
electrical and electronic equipment, personal protective
equipment, and other manufactured

Manufacturing-dependent economies have fared
better, both during the crisis and the recovery period, but
a quick rebound looks unlikely for tourism- and
commodity-dependent economies, the report

Trade in services, in particular tourism,
will remain depressed amid slow lifting of restrictions on
international travel and fear of new waves of infection in
many developing countries.

Women worst hit by the

Women have been at the forefront of the
fight against the pandemic. They have also been hit the
hardest in a number of ways, including bearing the brunt of
unpaid domestic and care work. They remain underrepresented
in pandemic-related decision-making and in economic policy
responses to the crisis.

While the pandemic has
reduced labour force participation by 2 per cent worldwide,
compared to only 0.2 per cent during the global financial
crisis of 2007-2008, more women than men were forced to
leave the work force altogether, further widening gender
gaps in employment and wages, the report highlighted.
Women-owned businesses have also fared disproportionately

“The pandemic has pushed nearly 58 million
women and girls into extreme poverty, dealing a huge blow to
poverty reduction efforts worldwide, and exacerbated gender
gaps in income, wealth and education, impeding progress on
gender equality,” said Hamid Rashid, the Chief of the
Global Economic Monitoring Branch at the UN Department of
Economic and Social Affairs, and the lead author of the

“Fiscal and monetary measures to steer
recovery must take into account the differentiated impact of
the crisis on different population groups, including women,
to ensure an economic recovery that is inclusive and
resilient,” he added.

About the World
Economic Situation and Prospects as of

The report is a mid-year update of
the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2021, released in
January 2021. 
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