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Asia Minute: COVID-19 Pushing Tens of Million in Asia into Poverty

AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

One of the most influential financial groups in the Asia Pacific warns that tens of millions of people in the region may be pushed below the poverty level by the coronavirus. The Asian Development Bank expects improvements next year, but prospects vary from country to country.

The impact of COVID-19 could push an additional 78 million people into poverty across Asia. That’s according to the Asian Development Bank — using the international poverty line of one dollar ninety cents a day.

If you use the World Bank’s calculation of poverty for lower-income countries of three dollars and twenty cents a day, the damage is even worse — forcing more than 160 million people below the poverty line.

For the first time in sixty years, recession willhit three-quarters of the 45 countries making up the regionthat international economists call “developing Asia.” Not surprisingly, the areas where the coronavirus has lingered are suffering the most economic damage.

China’s economy is already recovering to some extent, and the Asian Development Bank expects growth by year’s end at nearly two percent.

India is still wrestling with a spike in new cases, and the ADB says its economy will shrink by 9% this year.

Southeast Asia is in the middle — facing a decline of nearly 4%.

Economies dependent on tourism will be hit especially hard this year, with Fiji and the Maldives both expected to fall by roughly 20%.

The models show a recovery in 2021, but that assumes a decline in the virus.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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