Article by Hubert Escaith, former Chief Statistician at the World Trade Organization and former Director at the United Nations; Sangeeta Khorana Professor of Economics at the University of Bournemouth; James MacGregor, Senior Economist at Ramboll. Brendan Vickers and Salamat Ali are, respectively, Adviser and Head of Section and Trade Economist in the International Trade Policy Section at the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on global economies, businesses, governments and society. There are now more than ten million coronavirus cases globally and over 500,000 deaths.2 While it is too early to comprehend the full economic implications, especially given the uncertainties surrounding the duration of the outbreak and the risk of a second wave of infection, as well as progress on the development of a vaccine, few question the scale of the challenge ahead.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects global gross domestic product (GDP) to decline by 4.9 per cent in 2020 (lower than the 3 per cent fall it predicted in April 2020), with advanced economies estimated to lose by as much as 8 per cent (IMF, 2020b). The poor outlook for the global economy means only 39 countries out of 190 are expected to have positive GDP growth in 2020 (and none of them will record a growth rate above 2 per cent) (IMF, 2020a). To put this into perspective, at the peak of the global financial crisis just over 100 countries had registered positive growth.
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