International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
The pandemic has had a substantial impact on the economy, straining pre-pandemic gains in income and poverty reduction. The wide-ranging policy measures, including containment protocols, rapid vaccination and booster campaigns, direct income support, and policy support for borrowers and businesses, mitigated the adverse impact on lives and well-being. As the pandemic recedes and in light of the uncertainties from the war in Ukraine, the focus needs to be on securing livelihoods and ensuring strong and job-rich medium-term growth, while minimizing any persistent adverse effects from the pandemic and mitigating risks.
Ruchir Agarwal, Vybhavi Balasundharam, Patrick Blagrave, Mr. Eugenio M Cerutti, Ragnar Gudmundsson, and Racha Mousa
The South Asia region is both a large contributor to climate change and also one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change. This paper provides an overview of the region’s vulnerabilities, national committments to mitigate emissions, and national policies to adapt to a changing climate. The paper also discusses policy measures that may be needed to make further progress on both mitigation and adapatation. Our analysis suggests that while substantial progress is being made, there remains scope to adopt a more cohesive strategy to achieve the region’s goals—including by improving the monitoring and tracking of adaptation spending, and by laying the groundwork to equitably increase the effective price of carbon while protecting low-income and vulnerable households in the region.
Weicheng Lian, Fei Liu, Katsiaryna Svirydzenka, and Biying Zhu
While South Asia has gone a long way in diversifying their economies, there is substantial scope to do more. Some countries – India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka – can build on their existing production capabilities; others – Bangladesh, Bhutan, and the Maldives – would need to undertake a more concerted push. We identify key policies from a large set of potential determinants that explain the variation in export diversification and complexity across 189 countries from 1962 to 2018. Our analysis suggests that South Asia needs to invest in infrastructure, education, and R&D, facilitate bank credit to productive companies, and open to trade in order to diversify and move up the value chains. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, investing in digital technologies as part of the infrastructure push and improving education are of even greater importance to facilitate the ability to work remotely and assist resource reallocation away from the less viable sectors.
Mr. Kangni R Kpodar, Mr. Montfort Mlachila, Mr. Saad N Quayyum, and Vigninou Gammadigbe
This paper provides an early assessment of the dynamics and drivers of remittances during the COVID-19 pandemic, using a newly compiled monthly remittance dataset for a sample of 52 countries, of which 16 countries with bilateral remittance data. The paper documents a strong resilience in remittance flows, notwithstanding an unprecedent global recession triggered by the pandemic. Using the local projection approach to estimate the impulse response functions of remittance flows during Jan 2020-Dec 2020, the paper provides evidence that: (i) remittances responded positively to COVID-19 infection rates in migrant home countries, underscoring its role as an important automatic stabilizer; (ii) stricter containment measures have the unintended consequence of dampening remittances; and (iii) a shift from informal to formal remittance channels due to travel restrictions appears to have also played a role in the surge in formal remittances. Lastly, the size of the fiscal stimulus in host countries is positively associated with remittances as the fiscal response cushions the economic impact of the pandemic.
Mr. Carlos Sanchez-Munoz, Mr. Paul A Austin, Alicia Hierro, and Ms. Tamara Razin
The 2019 Annual Report of the IMF Committee on Balance of Payments Statistics (the Committee) provides an overview of recent trends in global balance of payments and international investment position statistics, summarizes the Committee’s work during 2019, and presents the work program of the Committee in the coming year.
Co-movement (synchronicity) in inflation rates among a set of 13 emerging and developing countries in Asia is shown to be strongest for the food component, partly due to common rainfall shocks—a result which the paper terms the ‘monsoon effect.’ Economies with higher trade integration and co-movement in nominal effective exchange rates also experience greater food-inflation co-movement. By contrast, cross-country co-movement in core inflation is weak and the aforementioned determinants have little explanatory power, suggesting a prominent role for idiosyncratic domestic factors in driving core inflation. In the context of the growing literature on the globalization of inflation, these results suggest that common weather patterns are partly responsible for any role played by a so-called ‘global factor’ among inflation rates in emerging and developing economies, in Asia at least.