COVID-19 pandemic and the Asia-Pacific LDCs: Impacts, challenges, gaps and way forward

This paper provides an evaluation of the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on least developed countries (LDCs) in Asia and the Pacific. Drawing on analysis and estimates from various regional and national sources, this paper finds that these impacts are large relative to the number of COVID-19 cases for several reasons. First, the size of stimulus packages to cushion the economic impacts of the pandemic was significantly smaller than other developing countries. Second, their undiversified export baskets suffered from disruptions in regional and global supply chains and in tourism-related activities. Third, due to the presence of large informal sector and the lack of social protection, job losses have directly translated into income losses. All these factors are further compounded by bleak external conditions surrounding official development assistance (ODA), foreign direct investment (FDI) and remittances.