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G20 GDP Returns To Pre-pandemic Level In The First Quarter Of 2021, But With Large Differences Across Countries

Gross domestic product (GDP) of the G20 area returned to pre-pandemic level in the first quarter of 2021, growing by 0.8% compared with the fourth quarter of 2020. However, this figure conceals large differences across countries.

Among the G20 economies, India, Turkey and China, whose GDP was already above pre-pandemic levels in the previous quarter, continued their recovery, by 2.1%, 1.7% and 0.6%, respectively (after 9.3%, 1.7% and 2.6% in the previous quarter). GDP in Australia, Korea and Brazil also returned to pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2021, with GDP growing by 1.8%, 1.7% and 1.2%, respectively.

For the remaining G20 economies, GDP is still lagging behind pre-pandemic levels, with countries recording diverging developments in the first quarter of 2021. While GDP growth accelerated in the United States (to 1.6%, after 1.1% in the fourth quarter of 2020) and Italy (to 0.1%, following a contraction of 1.8%), growth slowed in Indonesia (to 1.6%, after 2.3%), Canada (to 1.4%, after 2.2%), South Africa (to 1.1%, after 1.4%) and Mexico (to 0.8%, after 3.2%). Growth even turned negative in Germany (minus 1.8%, after 0.5% growth), the United Kingdom (minus 1.5%, after 1.3% growth), Japan (minus 1.0%, after 2.8% growth) and Saudi Arabia (minus 0.1%, after 2.5% growth). In France, GDP continued to contract for the second consecutive quarter, although at a slower pace (minus 0.1%, after minus 1.5%). Overall, the United Kingdom and Italy recorded the largest gaps to pre-pandemic GDP levels, at minus 8.7% and minus 6.4%, respectively, but also Germany, France, the euro area and the European Union still recorded gaps of more than 4.0%.

Year-on-year GDP growth of the G20 area rebounded to 3.4% in the first quarter of 2021, following a contraction of (minus) 0.7% in the previous quarter. Among G20 economies, China, which was affected by COVID-19 at an earlier stage than other countries, recorded the highest annual growth (18.3%), while the United Kingdom recorded the largest annual fall (minus 6.1%).

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