Asian lender forecasts strong rebound for region in 2021

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FILE - In this April 26, 2021, file photo, people queue up for COVID-19 vaccine in Mumbai, India. Developing Asian economies will grow at a solid 7.3% pace this year after contracting slightly in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Asian Development Bank says in its latest regional outlook. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool, File)

Developing Asian economies will grow at a solid 7.3% pace this year after contracting slightly in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Asian Development Bank says in its latest regional outlook.

But the regional lender said that forecast is in doubt as outbreaks of coronavirus flare in several countries, including Thailand, India and the Philippines.

Those setbacks threaten just as growth has been gaining momentum, said the ADB's chief economist, Yasuyuki Sawada.

“Economies in the region are on diverging paths," he said. “Their trajectories are shaped by the extent of domestic outbreaks, the pace of their vaccine rollouts, and how much they are benefiting from the global recovery.”

China, which first reported the virus and has been the first major economy to bounce back from the pandemic, is forecast to grow 8.1% this year, slowing to 5.5% in 2022, said the ADB report, released Wednesday.

It estimates that India’s economy will expand at an 11% pace in 2021, in line with similar forecasts from the International Monetary Fund and private economists.

Surging new cases in India — at more than 300,000 per day for the past five days — may derail that progress as hospitals are inundated with seriously ill patients, it noted.

So far, the overall impact of this spike in cases is unclear.