Trade And Development Report 2021



UNCTAD | United Nations

At this writing, eighteen months have passed since the Covid-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic by WHO. It has tested the responsiveness of gov- ernments and the resilience of economic systems everywhere; it has changed social behaviour and personal habits in ways previously unthinkable. The dedication of essential workers has shone through dark times, while the scientific community has harnessed the power of collaborative research and public money to develop a vaccine at breakneck speed.

At the same time, the pandemic has exposed just how unprepared countries, including the wealthiest, are for unexpected shocks, a point underscored by a series of extreme weather events this year, and just how deeply divided the global economy has become. Four decades of eroding government services, heightened inequalities, unchecked financialization and impunity for financial and corporate elites have taken their toll.

On the economic front, the dramatic collapse of out- put, as countries locked down to contain the spread of the virus, was so dramatic as to trigger unprecedented responses. Massive Central Bank action in rich coun- tries stabilized financial markets and unparalleled (at least in recent times) government spending cushioned firms and households against the worst of the down- turn. A global recovery began in the second half of 2020, as countries adopted less draconian ways to manage the health risks, and is still unfolding, even as regional and country prospects vary widely amid disparities in fiscal space, new virus variants and uneven vaccination rates.

Global growth is expected to hit 5.3 per cent this year, the fastest in almost half a century, with some coun- tries restoring (or even surpassing) their output level of 2019 by the end of 2021. The global picture beyond 2021, however, remains shrouded in uncertainty.


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