The World Bank forecasts that global economic growth will strengthen to 2.7 percent in 2017 as a pickup in manufacturing and trade, rising market confidence and stabilizing commodity prices allow growth to resume in commodity-exporting emerging market and developing economies.
According to the World Bank’s June 2017 Global Economic Prospects, growth in advanced economies is expected to accelerate to 1.9 percent in 2017, which will also benefit the trading partners of these countries. Global financing conditions remain favourable and commodity prices have stabilized. Against this improving international backdrop, growth in emerging market and developing economies as a whole will pick up to 4.1 percent this year from 3.5 percent in 2016.
Growth among the world’s seven largest emerging market economies is forecast to increase and exceed its long-term average by 2018. Recovering activity in these economies should have significant positive effects for growth in other emerging and developing economies and globally.
Nevertheless, substantial risks cloud the outlook. New trade restrictions could derail the welcome rebound in global trade. Persistent policy uncertainty could dampen confidence and investment. Amid exceptionally low financial market volatility, a sudden market reassessment of policy-related risks or of the pace of advanced-economy monetary policy normalization could provoke financial turbulence. Over the longer term, persistently weak productivity and investment growth could erode long-term growth prospects in emerging market and developing economies that are key to poverty reduction.
“For too long, we’ve seen low growth hold back progress in the fight against poverty, so it is encouraging to see signs that the global economy is gaining firmer footing,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said.
“With a fragile but real recovery now underway, countries should seize this moment to undertake institutional and market reforms that can attract private investment to help sustain growth in the long term. Countries must also continue to invest in people and build resilience against overlapping challenges, including climate change, conflict, forced displacement, famine and disease.”
The report highlights concern about mounting debt and deficits among emerging market and developing economies, raising the prospect that an abrupt rise in interest rates or tougher borrowing conditions might be damaging. At the end of 2016, government debt exceeded its 2007 level by more than 10 percentage points of gross domestic product (GDP) in more than half of emerging market and developing economies and fiscal balances worsened from their 2007 levels by more than 5 percentage points of GDP in one-third of these countries.
“The reassuring news is that trade is recovering,” said World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer.
“The concern is that investment remains weak. In response, we are shifting our priorities for lending toward projects that can spur follow-on investment by the private sector.”
A bright spot in the outlook is a recovery in trade growth to 4 percent after a post-financial crisis low of 2.5 percent last year. The report highlights a key area of weakness in global trade, trade among firms not linked through ownership. Such trade through outsourcing channels has slowed much more sharply than intra-firm trade in recent years. This is a reminder of the importance of a healthy global trading network for the less integrated firms that account for the majority of enterprises.
“After a prolonged slowdown, recent acceleration in activity in some of the largest emerging markets is a welcome development for growth in their regions and for the global economy,” said World Bank Development Economics Prospects Director Ayhan Kose.
“Now is the time for emerging market and developing economies to assess their vulnerabilities and strengthen policy buffers against adverse shocks.”
East Asia and Pacific: Growth in the region is projected to ease to 6.2 percent in 2017 and to 6.1 percent in 2018 as the gradual slowdown in China is offset by a pickup elsewhere led by a rebound among commodity exporters and accelerating growth in Thailand. Growth in China is anticipated to slow to 6.5 percent this year and 6.3 percent in 2018. Excluding China, the region is seen advancing at a more rapid 5.1 percent rate in 2017 and 5.2 percent in 2018. Indonesia is anticipated to pick up to 5.2 percent in 2017 and 5.3 percent in 2018 as the effects of fiscal consolidation dissipate and as private activity picks up, supported by modestly rising commodity prices, improving external demand and increased confidence due to reforms. Growth in the Philippines is forecast to hold steady at 6.9 percent this year and the next, led by a pickup in public and private investment. Thailand should similarly maintain 3.2 percent growth in 2017, accelerating to 3.3 percent next year, supported by greater public investment and recovering private consumption.
Europe and Central Asia: Growth in Europe and Central Asia is forecast to accelerate broadly to 2.5 percent in 2017 and to 2.7 percent in 2018, supported by continued recovery among commodity exporters and unwinding of geopolitical risks and domestic policy uncertainty in major economies in the region. Russia is expected to grow at a 1.3 percent rate in 2017 after a two-year recession and by 1.4 percent in 2018, with growth helped by gains in consumption. Kazakhstan is projected to expand at a 2.4 percent rate this year and 2.6 percent in 2018 as strengthening oil prices and an accommodative macroeconomic policy stance support economic activity. Among commodity importing economies, Turkey is projected to expand by 3.5 percent in 2017, supported by accommodative fiscal policy and by 3.9 percent in 2018 as uncertainty abates, tourism recovers and corporate balance sheets mend.
Latin America and the Caribbean: Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean is projected to strengthen to 0.8 percent in 2017 as Brazil and Argentina emerge from recession and rising commodity prices support agricultural and energy exporters. Brazil is forecast to expand 0.3 percent in 2017, with growth expected to pick up to a 1.8 percent rate 2018, while growth in Argentina is projected to expand at a 2.7 percent pace this year. Growth in Mexico is anticipated to moderate to 1.8 percent in 2017, principally due to contracting investment stemming from uncertainty about the US economic policy, before accelerating to 2.2 percent next year.
A rising forecast for metal prices is expected to help Chile, where copper production should recover after a strike. Growth in Chile is forecast to accelerate modestly this year to a 1.8 percent pace and to 2 percent next year. In the Caribbean, rising tourism demand underlies an expected acceleration in growth to 3.3 percent in 2017 and 3.8 percent in 2018.
Middle East and North Africa: Growth in the region is projected to fall to 2.1 percent in 2017 as the adverse impact of Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries production cuts on oil exporters outweighs modestly improving conditions in oil importers. Growth is expected to pick up to 2.9 percent in 2018, assuming a moderation of geopolitical tensions and an increase in oil prices. Growth in Saudi Arabia, the largest economy in the region, is anticipated to ease to 0.6 percent as a result of the production cuts, before accelerating to a 2 percent pace in 2018. The Islamic Republic of Iran is seen slowing to a 4 percent rate before accelerating modestly to a 4.1 percent pace in 2018 as limited spare capacity in oil production and difficulty in accessing finance weigh on the country’s growth. Egypt’s economy is forecast to moderate in the current fiscal year before steadily improving over the medium-term, supported by the implementation of business climate reforms and improved competitiveness.
South Asia: Growth in the region is forecast to pick up to 6.8 percent in 2017 and accelerate to 7.1 percent in 2018, reflecting a solid expansion of domestic demand and exports. Excluding India, regional growth is anticipated to hold steady at 5.7 percent, rising to 5.8 percent, with growth accelerating in Bhutan, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka but easing in Bangladesh and Nepal. India is expected to accelerate to 7.2 percent in fiscal 2017 (April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018) and 7.5 percent in next fiscal year. Pakistan is expected to pick up to a 5.2 percent rate in fiscal 2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017) and to 5.5 percent in the next fiscal year, reflecting an upturn in private investment, increased energy supply and improved security. Sri Lanka’s growth is forecast to accelerate to a 4.7 percent rate in 2017 and 5 percent in 2018, as international financial institution programmes support economic reforms and boost private sector competitiveness.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to pick up to 2.6 percent in 2017 and to 3.2 percent in 2018, predicated on moderately rising commodity prices and reforms to tackle macroeconomic imbalances.
However, per capita output is projected to shrink by 0.1 percent in 2017 and to increase to a modest 0.7 percent growth pace over 2018-19. At those rates, growth will be insufficient to achieve poverty reduction goals in the region, particularly if constraints to more vigorous growth persist. Growth in South Africa is projected to rise to 0.6 percent in 2017 and accelerate to 1.1 percent in 2018. Nigeria is forecast to go from recession to a 1.2 percent growth rate in 2017, gaining speed to 2.4 percent in 2018.
Growth in non-resource- intensive countries is anticipated to remain solid, supported by infrastructure investment, resilient services sectors, and the recovery of agricultural production. Ethiopia is forecast to expand by 8.3 percent in 2017, Tanzania by 7.2 percent, Côte d’Ivoire by 6.8 percent, and Senegal by 6.7 percent.
Global economic prospects: South Asia region
Recent developments: Growth in the South Asia region has picked up in 2017. In India, recent data indicate an acceleration in growth, with an easing of cash shortages and a rise in exports. An increase in government spending, including on capital formation, has partially offset soft private investment. In Pakistan, favourable weather and increased cotton prices are supporting agricultural production and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor infrastructure project and a stable macroeconomic environment have contributed to an increase in private investment.
Growth in Bangladesh has been supported by solid agricultural activity and robust services, despite external and domestic challenges. In Sri Lanka, a resumption of Chinese-funded investment and infrastructure projects have lifted private investment and foreign direct investment inflows and fiscal consolidation under an International Monetary Fund programme has helped improve investor sentiment. In Bhutan and the Maldives, growth has continued to gain traction and Nepal’s growth has rebounded strongly following a good monsoon.
Outlook: Growth in the South Asia region is forecast to advance to a 6.8 percent pace in 2017 and accelerate to 7.1 percent in 2018, reflecting a solid expansion of domestic demand and exports. Excluding India, regional growth is anticipated to hold steady at 5.7 percent this year, rising to 5.8 percent in the next, with growth accelerating in Bhutan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka but easing in Bangladesh and Nepal.
India is expected to accelerate to 7.2 percent in fiscal 2017 (April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018) and 7.5 percent in the following fiscal year. Domestic demand is expected to remain strong, supported by policy reforms. Pakistan is expected to pick up to a 5.2 percent rate in fiscal 2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017) and to 5.5 percent in the next fiscal year, reflecting an upturn in private investment, increased energy supply and improved security.
Sri Lanka’s growth is forecast to accelerate to a 4.7 percent rate in 2017 and 5 percent in 2018, as international financial institution programmes support economic reforms and boost private sector competitiveness. Growth in Bangladesh is forecast to ease to 6.8 percent in fiscal 2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017), to 6.4 percent in the next fiscal year and then accelerate to an average of 6.9 percent over fiscal 2019 and 2020, supported by improving remittances as Gulf Cooperation Council countries recover and as business confidence and investment gain momentum.
Risks: Risks to the outlook are tilted to the downside. Setbacks to reform processes would slow the removal of supply constraints, dampen productivity growth and hinder integration into global value chains. Security concerns in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan could hold back investment and business confidence.
Despite progress in fiscal consolidation, public debt remains high across the region and contingent liabilities are building up. While South Asia is less integrated into the global economy than other regions and therefore less likely to be affected by negative external shocks, several external risks remain a concern. One is the possibility of weaker-than-expected demand or a rise in trade restrictions in advanced economies, which could weigh on exports. Another is the possibility of an abrupt market reassessment of the US monetary policy tightening, which could lead to capital outflows. Yet another is the uncertain outlook for remittances, which could slow in the aftermath of tighter immigration policies in advanced economies or continued fiscal consolidation among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Risks of natural disaster from extreme weather events have also increased substantially in recent years.