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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
The COVID-19 pandemic and related containment measures have severely impacted the economy. Border closure and the suspension of commercial flights curtailed tourist arrivals. Real GDP contracted by 9.7 percent in FY2020, notwithstanding policy support. The economic contraction is estimated to have deepened in FY2021, and a gradual recovery is expected in FY2022 as tourism activities resume. While Palau’s public debt remains sustainable, the economic fallout of the pandemic and the cost of the fiscal response have led to a sharp deterioration of the fiscal position and a rapid increase in public debt. The high share of concessional loans from multilateral creditors in Palau’s external debt is an important risk mitigating factor. Palau is vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters.
Ian W.H. Parry, Mr. Simon Black, and Nate Vernon
This paper provides a comprehensive global, regional, and country-level update of: (i) efficient fossil fuel prices to reflect their full private and social costs; and (ii) subsidies implied by mispricing fuels. The methodology improves over previous IMF analyses through more sophisticated estimation of costs and impacts of reform. Globally, fossil fuel subsidies were $5.9 trillion in 2020 or about 6.8 percent of GDP, and are expected to rise to 7.4 percent of GDP in 2025. Just 8 percent of the 2020 subsidy reflects undercharging for supply costs (explicit subsidies) and 92 percent for undercharging for environmental costs and foregone consumption taxes (implicit subsidies). Efficient fuel pricing in 2025 would reduce global carbon dioxide emissions 36 percent below baseline levels, which is in line with keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees, while raising revenues worth 3.8 percent of global GDP and preventing 0.9 million local air pollution deaths. Accompanying spreadsheets provide detailed results for 191 countries.
Mr. Serkan Arslanalp, Mr. Robin Koepke, and Jasper Verschuur
This paper proposes an easy-to-follow approach to track merchandise trade using vessel data and applies it to Pacific island countries. Pacific islands rely heavily on imports and maritime transport for trade. They are also highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters that pose risks to ports and supply chains. Using satellite-based vessel tracking data from the UN Global Platform, we construct daily indicators of port and trade activity for Pacific island countries. The algorithm significantly advances estimation techniques of previous studies, particularly by employing ways to overcome challenges with the estimation of cargo payloads, using detailed information on shipping liner schedules to validate port calls, and applying country-specific information to define port boundaries. The approach can complement and help fill gaps in official data, provide early warning signs of turning points in economic activity, and assist policymakers and international organizations to monitor and provide timely responses to shocks (e.g., COVID-19).