Overview

Growth in developing East Asia and Pacific (EAP) continues to be resilient and the outlook for 2017-2019 remains broadly positive across the region.

Driven by robust domestic demand and a gradual recovery in the global economy and commodity prices, the economies of developing EAP are projected to expand at 6.2% in 2017 and 6.1% in 2018. China's growth is projected to continue easing steadily, to 6.5% in 2017 and 6.3% in 2018-19. Aggregate growth in the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) economies is expected to pick up slightly to 5% in 2017 and 5.1% in 2018, up from 4.9% in 2016.

Over the last two decades, poverty has decreased dramatically across most of developing East Asia. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people in the region living in extreme poverty fell by over 920 million. The rapid growth in labor incomes among the poor, along with low unemployment, public transfers (such as pensions, cash transfers, and unemployment insurance, among others), structural transformations, and public investments contributed to the decline.

Nevertheless, challenges remain. In countries such as Lao PDR and Myanmar, a significant percentage of the population remains poor, and in Mongolia and Papua New Guinea, recent economic setbacks may have reversed gains. In many countries the public perception is that inequality is high and rising.

EAP is the epicenter of the double burden of stunting and obesity—both forms of malnutrition. Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam are among a group of 34 countries accounting for 90% of the global burden of stunting, while China and Indonesia are among the 10 countries that account for more than 50% of the global burden of obesity. Stunting significantly reduces the physical and mental capabilities of children, imposing enormous human and economic costs. In Indonesia, for example, where 37% of children are stunted, economic losses associated with stunting are estimated at 2-3% of GDP.

The region includes 13 of the 30 countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. It also bears the brunt of 70% of the world’s natural disasters, which have affected more than 1.6 billion people in the region since 2000. The Pacific Island countries, where the rising sea level is threatening coastal areas and atoll islands, have been hit hard.

EAP is also the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for one-third of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and 60% of its coal consumption. The region plays a critical role in advancing the global climate change agenda. The Bank is working with governments, the private sector, and other development partners on a range of innovative solutions to support greener and cleaner energy policies, including carbon pricing.

Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017

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

  • Private sector-led growth
  • Inclusion
  • Climate change
  • Governance

The Bank approved $7.5 billion for 41 projects in the region this fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016). Support included $5.2 billion in IBRD loans and $2.3 billion in IDA commitments. 

Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017

Health and Education

In Indonesia, the World Bank supports the government’s Family Hope Program, which strives to end the cycle of poverty among the poorest. Family development sessions and learning materials give mothers have a better understanding of health and nutrition, good parenting practices, child protection, and financial management. The program is currently assisting 3.5 million families to improve their children’s education and health, and the government plans to expand the program to reach 6 million families in 2017.

Infrastructure 

In Kiribati, support from the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project improved the South Tarawa Road, a very important road in the country. It’s the only road in South Tarawa, connecting more than 50,000 people between Betio seaport in the west and Bonriki and the international airport in the East, making it a lifeline for those who live along it. Along with the road repair, 57 kilometers of footpaths have been added for pedestrians as well as 36 bus shelters.

Conflict and Fragility

In the Philippines, the Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Program is helping conflict-affected areas by supporting better governance, access to services, jobs creation and improved citizen security and justice. Communities have gained access roads, bridges, water supply systems, as well as farm equipment and post-harvest facilities. The program has also promoted social cohesion for around 650,000 people in Mindanao–53% of whom are women–since 2006. As of early 2017, 314 conflict-affected communities across Mindanao have benefited from 577 community infrastructure, livelihood and functional literacy projects.

Sanitation

In Vietnam, the Coastal Cities Environmental Sanitation Project provided drainage, wastewater collection and treatment plants, and solid waste management facilities for citizens in Dong Hoi, Quy Nhon and Nha Trang. It has reduced the incidence and severity of flooding for 255,000 people; provided solid waste collection and better access to improved sanitation for more than 800,000 people; provided better sanitation in schools for 66,500 students; and helped 8,400 poor families upgrade their toilets and sanitation connections.

Innovations in Development

In Mongolia, all 21 aimags (provinces) are covered by the groundbreaking Index-Based Livestock Insurance Project. The project introduced an insurance scheme where payments are based on the total number of livestock lost by species and soum (district) rather than on households’ actual, individual losses. The program is a combination of self-insurance, market-based insurance, and social safety net. Under the traditional system, it was difficult for insurers to verify losses by individual herders in Mongolia’s vast territory. Because the index system relies on verifiable statistics, estimating losses is a much simpler process that leaves less room for error. This innovative product benefits herders and makes good business sense for insurance companies.

Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017

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.

The Bank Group is also working closely with new development banks, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to end poverty and boost shared prosperity. In July, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the first co-financing project with the AIIB (with $216.5 million from each institution), the National Slum Upgrading Program, to improve infrastructure in Indonesia’s slum areas and benefit more than 9.7 million urban poor across the country.

A key priority for the World Bank’s work in the region is to strengthen knowledge partnerships to deliver solutions for its clients.

For example, the World Bank is working closely with Pacific Island governments, development partners and civil society on Pacific Possible, which focuses on transformative opportunities that exist for Pacific Island countries over the next 25 years and identifies the region’s biggest challenges that require urgent action.

In China, the World Bank Group worked closely with three government agencies and the World Health Organization to complete a joint report, Deepening Health Reform in China.

The Bank expanded its partnerships with non-borrower member countries this year, opening an office in Kuala Lumpur in March. The new Malaysia office, along with the office in Songdo, Republic of Korea, and the Singapore Global Infrastructure Hub, is intended to generate and share development knowledge, lessons, and solutions with countries in the region and across the globe.

Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017


Economic Update

East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, April 2017

The outlook for developing East Asia is expected to remain broadly positive in the next three years.





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