G-20 growth returns to pre-pandemic level in first quarter 2021: OECD

Employees work on the production line of silicon wafer at a workshop of Jiejie Semiconductor Co., Ltd on March 17, 2021 in Nantong, Jiangsu Province of China.

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The Group of Twenty (G-20) economies saw gross domestic product return to pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2021, but with large differences emerging between nations.

GDP of the G-20 area grew by 0.8% in the first quarter, compared with the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the latest data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released Thursday.

Year-on-year GDP growth for the G-20 area rebounded to 3.4% in the first quarter of 2021, following a contraction of 0.7% in the previous quarter.

China, where the coronavirus pandemic first emerged, recorded the highest annual growth (18.3%), while the U.K. recorded the largest annual fall (minus 6.1%). 

Europe fared particularly badly in the first quarter, a period when a third wave of Covid infections swept the region, in contrast with other countries.

India, Turkey and China (whose GDP was already above pre-pandemic levels in the previous quarter) continued to see a recovery in the first quarter of 2021, growing by 2.1%, 1.7% and 0.6%, respectively.

In addition, Australia, South Korea and Brazil saw growth return to pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter.

GDP still lagging for some

But for the remaining G-20 economies, GDP is still lagging behind pre-pandemic levels, with countries recording startling divergences 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, growth slowed in Indonesia, Canada, South Africa and Mexico.

Growth even turned negative in Germany (-1.8%, after 0.5% growth in the fourth quarter), the U.K. (-1.5%, after 1.3% growth), Japan and Saudi Arabia while in France, GDP continued to contract for the second consecutive quarter, although at a slower pace (-0.1%, after -1.5%).

Overall, the U.K. and Italy recorded the largest gaps to pre-pandemic GDP levels, at -8.7% and -6.4%, respectively. But also Germany, France, the euro area and the European Union still recorded gaps of more than 4%.

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