The health and economic crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic has afflicted more than two million people globally, with 40 percent coming from the APEC region, according to a new policy brief by the APEC Policy Support Unit.
The APEC region’s growth is expected to decline by 2.7 percent this year, compared to the 3.6 percent growth in 2019, making it the most significant drop since the near-zero growth rate recorded in 2009 during the global financial crisis.
This reduction in growth translates to an estimated output loss of US$2.1 trillion due to the economic fallout from the pandemic. This is compounded by an additional 23 million people becoming unemployed in 2020.
The pandemic has caused a vast and unparalleled impact ic on the livelihoods of people and small businesses, which account for 97 percent of all firms in the region.
The policy brief projects an economic rebound in 2021, with the APEC region anticipated to grow by 6.3 percent, higher than the projected global economic growth of 5.8 percent.
However, the unprecedented shock to the global economy requires a well-targeted and coordinated regional response towards socioeconomic recovery, including greater support for healthcare systems and increased social protection.
The APEC region has an average of 4.1 hospital beds, 1.9 physicians, and 3.9 nurses or midwives per 1,000 people. While these figures have improved since the SARS outbreak in 2003, the current capacity of health systems is insufficient considering significantly higher infection rates and the uncertainty of the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All 21 APEC member economies are rolling out significant and targeted fiscal measures ranging from 1 percent to 20 percent of gross domestic product to address the impact of COVID-19, including assistance for the unemployed and small and medium-sized enterprises.