–UN agency says developing nations, including Pakistan, will need a $2.5tr support package this year to face economic crisis
NEW YORK: Developing countries, including Pakistan, will be hit hardest by the economic shockwaves caused by the novel coronavirus crisis that has shaken the world and will need a support package of up to $2.5 trillion to cope with the damage, a United Nations (UN) report has predicted.
According to a report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which was released on Monday, Pakistan, Argentina and the Sub-Saharan African countries would face a “frightening combination” crises including mounting debts, a potential deflationary spiral as well as a disastrous impact on the health sector.
Their economies will take “enormous hit” from high capital outflows, lost export earnings due to falling commodity prices and currency depreciations, with an overall impact likely worse than the 2008 crisis, the report said.
“It is going to be really bad,” said Richard Kozul-Wright, director of globalisation and development strategies at UNCTAD who oversaw the report.
“The international institutions have to take these sorts of proposals very, very seriously as it is the only way that we can see to prevent the damage already taking place and which will get worse,” he added.
In what he said was likely a conservative estimate, Kozul-Wright said that the coronavirus pandemic would cause a $2-$3 trillion financing deficit over this year and next.
In an early sign of the impact, portfolio outflows from main emerging economies were $59 billion a month between February and March compared to $26.7 billion in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 crisis, the report said.
Developing countries will need a $2.5 trillion support package this year to face the economic crisis, the report said. Needed measures will include a $1 trillion liquidity injection and a $1 trillion debt relief package and another $500 million will be needed for emergency health services and related programmes, on top of capital controls.
The figures in the report titled “The COVID-19 Shock to Developing Countries” echoed an earlier estimate by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
UNCTAD considers around 170 countries to be developing but the financing gap figure stripped out China and South Korea.
“If G20 leaders are to stick to their commitment of ‘a global response in the spirit of solidarity’, there must be commensurate action for the six billion people living outside the core G20 economies,” Kozul-Wright said.
Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies had pledged on Thursday to inject more than $5 trillion into the global economy to limit job and income losses from the coronavirus and “do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic”.
IMMEDIATE DEBT RELIEF:
The report comes as British charity Oxfam called for a package of nearly $160 billion in immediate debt cancellation and aid to fund a Global Public Health Plan and Emergency Response to help prevent millions of coronavirus deaths in poorer countries.
The charity set out a five-point plan – investment in prevention, 10 million new health workers, free healthcare, government requisition of all private facilities and availability of vaccines and treatments – to enable poor countries to take action to prevent the spread of the disease.
“We know from Oxfam’s experience of fighting Ebola that with rapid action, this disease [coronavirus] can be stalled and its catastrophic impact stopped. But we must act now and on a scale never seen before,” Jose Maria Vera, Oxfam International Interim Executive Director said in a statement.
The statement quoted a study from the Imperial College, which said that coronavirus could cause 40 million deaths in the coming year in the absence of interventions. “Without urgent, ambitious and historic action, we could easily see the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II,” Vera warned.