East Asia and Pacific East Asia remains one of the main growth drivers of the world economy, accounting for nearly two-fifths of global economic growth. Overall, the region is expected to grow 6.5 percent in 2015, moderating slightly from 6.8 percent last year.

Growth in the developing economies of EAP is expected to ease, from 6.8 percent in 2014 to 6.5% in 2015 and 6.3% over 2016–17. This reflects mainly a moderate slowdown in China. Aggregate growth in the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) economies will be roughly stable at 4.3% in 2015, rising to 4.9% by 2017, with increasing support from global growth and export demand, particularly from high-income economies.

Extreme poverty in the EAP region, as measured using the new 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP) prices and a revised global extreme poverty line of $PPP 1.90 a day has decreased sharply, from 29.1% in 2002 to 7.2%  in 2012, with projections indicating the poverty rate fell further to 4.8% in 2014. The new estimates indicate that the number of people in developing East Asia living on less than $PPP1.90 a day decreased from 551 million in 2002 to 147 million in 2012, and further to an estimated 97 million by 2014. Even excluding China, poverty declined rapidly from 21.1% in 2002 to 8.9% in 2012, the latest year with actual data for China. Nevertheless, using the global moderate poverty line (now updated to $3.10 a day in 2011 PPP prices), an estimated 379 million people lived in poverty in 2014, and were vulnerable to falling back into extreme poverty.

The region has huge infrastructure needs on account of rapid urbanization. As many as 142 million people have no access to power, and 600 million lack adequate sanitation. Rapid migration to cities is putting pressure on service delivery and leading to large urban slums, pollution, and environmental degradation. In the world’s most disaster-stricken region, concentrating 70% of natural disasters, urbanization challenges can be aggravated by a changing climate.

Managing the effects of climate change and disaster risk, rapid urbanization, improving governance and institutions, and encouraging private-sector led growth to create jobs are critical to reduce poverty and build shared prosperity across the region. Countries also need to prepare for volatility and shocks by expanding safety nets to protect the poor and vulnerable.


Last Updated: Oct 04, 2015

The Bank’s strategy in the region focuses on five priority areas:

  • Inclusion and empowerment;
  • Jobs and private sector–led growth;
  • Governance and institutions;
  • Infrastructure and urbanization;
  • Climate change and disaster risk management.

The Bank also focuses on the cross-cutting themes of gender, fragility and conflict, and poverty analytics.

The World Bank Group has been working since 2012 to restore full engagement with Myanmar after a 25-year hiatus. Myanmar and the World Bank Group launched a new Country Partnership Framework for 2015–17, the first full country strategy since 1984. Under the agreement, IDA provides up to $1.6 billion in concessional credits, technical assistance, and knowledge; IFC provides up to $1 billion in investments and $20 million in technical assistance; and MIGA will provide political risk insurance to private lenders and investors in Myanmar.

The Country Partnership Framework focuses Bank Group support on reducing rural poverty, investing in effective, inclusive institutions that empower people and creating private sector jobs. It builds on findings from the recent Systematic Country Diagnostic, extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, and lessons learned since reengagement in 2012.

The Bank Group has also significantly scaled up its engagement with the Pacific Island nations over the past several years to help strengthen their resilience to economic and natural shocks, given the islands’ high vulnerability to natural disasters due to their small size and geographical isolation.

In March 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam tore through the South Pacific, causing significant damage to Vanuatu and Tuvalu. The Bank participated in the post-disaster needs assessment for Vanuatu, which estimated damage and losses at $447 million, equivalent to 64% of the country’s GDP.

To help finance the substantial reconstruction needs, an IDA credit of $59.5 million approved in May 2015 for Vanuatu’s Aviation Investment Project also contributes to emergency repairs to Vanuatu’s international airports. In addition, the Bank is to draw on $18 million of unallocated IDA17 resources and $50 million from IDA’s Crisis Response Window.

Cyclone Pam triggered a $1.9 million payout to Vanuatu through the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Pilot project, a joint effort of the government of Japan, the World Bank, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

Tuvalu also sustained heavy damage to critical infrastructure, particularly to its protective seawalls. Financing of $3 million from the Crisis Response Window is to help the government manage the unanticipated costs of post-cyclone reconstruction while maintaining the country’s fiscal reforms.

The Bank approved $6.3 billion for the region for 57 projects in fiscal year 2015 (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015). Support included $4.5 billion in IBRD loans and $1.8 billion in IDA commitments. The leading sectors were Water, Sanitation, and Flood Protection ($1.2 billion); Public Administration, Law, and Justice ($1.2 billion); and Transportation ($1.2 billion).



Last Updated: Oct 04, 2015

A few highlights from development results:


The China Rural Health Project conducted a series of comprehensive reform pilot programs over six years, with the objective to strengthen the rural service delivery system in 40 counties across eight provinces. About 2,300 village clinics were built, expanded or rehabilitated, with improved medical equipment and office supplies.  A rural health human resources development plan was formulated, and 180,728 health workers were trained, among other major improvements.


In Lao PDR, the Bank and IFC supported the Rural Electrification Project with investments, policy assistance and capacity building to help the country’s power utility extend the electricity grid to rural households, which account for almost 70% of the total population, and promote off-grid renewable energy throughout the country. Access to electricity increased to 80% from only 15% of households in 1995.

In Vietnam, over 2.7 million people in some of the poorest parts of the country gained access to electricity as 555,327 households were connected to the national grid through the Second Rural Energy Project.

Water Supply and Sanitation

In Vietnam, The Coastal Cities Environmental Sanitation Project provided drainage, wastewater collections and treatment plants as well solid waste management facilities and conducted a comprehensive capacity building program in the cities of Dong Hoi, Quy Nhon and Nha Trang. More than 800,000 citizens now enjoy improved solid waste management service, 250,000 have reduced flooding near their homes, 66,500 students have better schools sanitation facilities and 8,452 poor families had access to a fund to upgrade their toilets. 


The Rural Education and Development (READ) Project has helped set up classroom libraries in all 383 primary schools in rural Mongolia, which until 2006 had almost no books. The project also helped put 200 new titles of children's books on the local market, delivered more than 676,000 books to classrooms and essentially turned students in grades 1-5 into regular readers and book authors.


The Liaoning Medium Cities Infrastructure Project helped improve existing Chinese urban transport infrastructure to enhance mobility, access and safety, repairing or building a total of 43 roads, increasing the percentage of roads in good condition from 60% to 89% and reducing travel times. The project also built 20 bus-priority lines, 11 bus depots, and 196 bus stations and shelters, also installing 824 traffic monitoring facilities.

Information and Communications Technology

The Samoa Agriculture & Fisheries Cyclone Response Project helped farmers address the impact of Cyclone Evan, which disrupted the agriculture sector. A pilot project tested an innovative e-voucher program providing grants to 400 households in five villages on the island of Upolu. These funds enable farmers to rebuild damaged livestock shelters, restore fencing, purchase planting materials, and invest in new equipment and tools. This type of technology is the first of its kind in the Pacific and is expected to be used by 7,400 farmers. 


Last Updated: Oct 04, 2015

The Bank Group continues to build partnerships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Pacific Island Forum, Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and others to maximize development impact.

A key priority for the World Bank’s work in the region is to strengthen knowledge partnerships to deliver solutions for its clients. The government of Vietnam and the World Bank initiated a report that helps policy makers define a long-term development strategy for transforming Vietnam into a modern industrial country by 2035. The government of China, the Bank Group, and the World Health Organization initiated a joint study of China’s health care system. The study, which will be published in 2016, offers options to help China strengthen health service delivery and performance, maximize value for the money, and improve the health of all its citizens. The Bank Group is also working with Pacific Island stakeholders on a strategic study looking at long-term development opportunities and challenges for the sub-region.

The government of Malaysia signed a formal agreement with the Bank Group to open an office in Kuala Lumpur. The agreement will help to share Malaysia’s successful development experience with other developing countries, and enable it to better leverage global knowledge and expertise to become a high-income economy.


Last Updated: Oct 04, 2015

Economic Update

East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, April 2016

Growth of developing East Asia has remained resilient despite a challenging global environment.

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