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The East Asia and Pacific region remains one of the fastest growing and most dynamic regions in the world. Over the past two decades, most countries in the region have achieved strong and stable growth that has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and transformed economies across the region. Many East Asia and Pacific countries have risen to upper-middle income status and have set the goal of reaching high-income status in the near to medium term.

Overall, 7 million people in the region were expected to escape poverty between 2022 and 2023 at the lower-middle income poverty line (US$3.65/day, 2017 at purchasing power parity (PPP)), whereas 37 million people were projected to escape poverty at the upper-middle income poverty line (US$6.85/ day, 2017 PPP).

Most economies in the region have recovered from the succession of shocks since 2020, and GDP among major economies, including China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines, exceeds pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, the recovery has been uneven across the region, and several Pacific Island countries, including Palau, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands, remain below their pre-pandemic GDP levels.

The recovery has also been uneven across sectors. Information and communication technology and finance have experienced relatively strong growth, and the services sector recovered after economic re-opening in several of the region’s economies. However, output in transportation, accommodation and catering in some countries, and construction and real estate in others, remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

Economic growth in developing East Asia and Pacific is projected to remain strong at 5% in 2023 but is anticipated to ease in the second half of the year and moderate to 4.5% in 2024.  Even so, regional growth this year is higher than average growth projected for all other emerging market and developing economies.

Economic performance in the region is being shaped by external factors, including slowing global growth, tight financial conditions, and trading partner trade and industrial policies, and by domestic factors that include high public and private debt and tighter macroeconomic policy stances. Exports of both manufactured goods and commodities have contracted.

Despite significant progress, developing EAP, a region with a population of over 2.1 billion faces challenges. Rapid urbanization and business demands are feeding a massive need for investment in infrastructure, broadband access, adequate sanitation, reduction, and management of marine plastic pollution. With aging, rising chronic diseases, and increasing health expenditure, people’s demand for health care is changing in favor of comprehensive health care encompassing prevention and to treatment and continuous care at affordable costs. Meeting growing electricity needs at a reasonable price and without massively increasing the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of East Asia and Pacific is a major question.

Reducing exposure to climate risks is critical for a region that includes 13 of the world’s 30 most climate-vulnerable countries. East Asia and Pacific 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. Pacific Island countries, where rising sea levels are threatening coastal areas and atoll islands, have been hit hard by natural disasters. 

Given that many EAP countries are extremely vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters, with seven of them remaining in the Bank's list of fragile and conflict-affected situations, building resilience is a key priority. On the other hand, the Region also plays a critical role in achieving global targets for carbon and methane emissions reduction. To ensure full alignment with the World Bank’s Evolution Roadmap, EAP plans to scale up successful interventions in the past with emphasis on prioritization of Global Challenge Program (GCP) areas, as well as other evolution priorities, through One World Bank country engagement, lending, technical assistance, and knowledge. In addition to health emergency preparedness and response, we will expand our priorities to work programs on energy transition, accelerating digitalization, water, food and nutrition security.

Last Updated: March 2024

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Washington DC
Marilene Montemayor