UN body raises global economic growth forecast for 2021 to 4.7%

GENEVA — The global economy is set to grow by 4.7% this year thanks to a stronger-than-expected recovery in the United States, a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said on Thursday, revising up its previous forecast of 4.3%.

The upwards revision from its previous forecast made last September factors in an expected boost in US consumer spending on the back of progress distributing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines and a vast stimulus package, the report said.

“The global recovery that began in the third quarter of 2020 is expected to continue through 2021, albeit with a good deal of unevenness and unpredictability, reflecting epidemiological, policy and coordination uncertainties,” the report said.

Earlier this month, the OECD also revised higher its growth forecast for this year to 5.6 % from 4.2%.

However, the 22-page UNCTAD report called Out of the frying pan… into the fire? said COVID-19 will have lasting economic consequences that will require continued government support. It said the main risk to the global outlook is a “misguided return to austerity.”

The report estimates that last year there was a 3.9% drop in output as the spread of the coronavirus sparked lockdowns across the world.

It called the impact “exorbitant,” describing the “destruction of income on an unprecedented scale” with people in developing countries particularly hard hit.

Still, it says it would have been worse had central banks not taken preemptive action to avoid financial meltdown. Relief packages and a bounce-back in commodity prices, as well as the fast-tracking of vaccine development, also helped, the report said. — Reuters