IMF Cuts Asia’s Growth Forecast, Warns of Supply Chain Risks

By Reuters
Reuters
Reuters
October 20, 2021 Updated: October 20, 2021

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday slashed this year’s economic growth forecast for Asia and warned that a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections, supply chain disruptions, and inflation pressures pose downside risks to the outlook.

China’s economy will grow by 8.0 percent this year and 5.6 percent in 2022, but the recovery remains “unbalanced” as repeated coronavirus outbreaks and fiscal tightening weigh on consumption, it said.

Any “untimely policy normalization or misconstrued policy communications” by the U.S. Federal Reserve could also trigger significant capital outflow and higher borrowing costs for Asian emerging economies, the IMF said.

In its regional outlook report, the IMF cut this year’s economic growth forecast for Asia to 6.5 percent, down 1.1 percentage point from its projection made in April, as a spike in Delta variant cases hit consumption and factory output.

The IMF raised its Asia growth forecast for 2022 to 5.7 percent from a 5.3 percent estimate in April, reflecting progress in vaccinations.

“Although Asia and Pacific remains the fastest growing region in the world, the divergence between Asian advanced economies and emerging market and developing economies is deepening,” the report said.

“Risks are tilted to the downside,” mainly on uncertainty over the pandemic, supply chain disruptions and potential spillovers from U.S. policy normalization, it said.

China’s economy hit its slowest pace of growth in a year in the third quarter as the country grapples with a worsening energy crisis and property woes.

India is expected to expand 9.5 percent this year, while advanced economies like Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan benefit from high-tech and commodity booms, the IMF said.

But ASEAN-5 countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand—still face “severe challenges” from a resurgent virus and weakness in service consumption, it said.

“Over the coming months, new infection waves remain the biggest concern,” the IMF said.

While inflation expectations are “generally well-anchored” in Asia, higher commodity prices and shipping costs, coupled with continued disruption of global value chains, are amplifying concerns over persistent inflation.

Most Asian emerging economies must maintain monetary support to ensure a lasting recovery, but central banks “should be prepared to act quickly if the recovery strengthens faster than expected or if inflation expectations rise,” it said.

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report

Reuters