SINGAPORE (PACNEWS) — The Pacific Islands experienced negative economic growth of -2.3 percent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stated the International Labour Organisation (IMO) Director General, Gilbert F. Houngbo in a report tabled at the ILO’s 17th Asia Pacific Regional Meeting in Singapore.

He said smaller island countries with a strong Gross Domestic Products (GDP) dependency on tourism were largely affected.

“The Asia and the Pacific region experienced negative economic growth of 1.3 per cent in 2020 – the most severe contraction in nearly half a century,” said Houngbo.

“The Pacific Islands experienced a negative economic growth of -2.3 per cent in 2020, largely driven by Australia and New Zealand but also reflecting smaller island countries with a strong GDP dependency on tourism.”

“Throughout the pandemic, governments have faced a double challenge in their responses: (a) to contain the spread of the virus through mobility restrictions, including border and workplace closures and to respond to the resulting social and economic disruptions that have adversely affected businesses and the livelihoods and well-being of women and men workers and their families.”

“The national lockdowns and closures of international borders imposed by many countries, especially during the first months of the pandemic, weighed heavily on domestic and foreign consumer demand, investment and tourism, all the elements that had pushed the Asian economy to its top-ranked position in recent years.”

“Even as more geographically targeted and sector-specific measures have gradually become the norm, travel restrictions are still in place in many countries, with adverse impacts on the economy.’

“Yet even as the COVID-19 crisis eases in most countries and borders reopen, pre-existing crises have continued and new crises have unfolded in recent months, compounding the already fragile circumstances of many countries or areas, said Houngbo…. PACNEWS

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