- MANILA (Xinhuanet) -- An avian flu pandemic could
halt Asia's growth rate to near zero and reduce the global trade of goods
and services by 14 percent, said a new research by the Asian Development
- The report, entitled "The Potential Economic
Impact of an Avian Flu Pandemic on Asia", said there are many unknowns
in predicting the consequences of a new flu pandemic.
- "This analysis has shown the consequences of
a realistic and relatively mild set of assumptions," it said. "The
consequences could be significantly worse if the outbreak lasts longer
or is more virulent."
- The report, reaching here Thursday, underscored that
there are three major unknowns in projecting the possible economic impact
of a pandemic -- the magnitude and duration of the pandemic, the psychological
impact resulting in loss of consumer and investor confidence, and the supply
side effects, resulting from shrinkage in the work force.
- "One clear lesson from the SARS outbreak (in
2003) was the psychological impact on economic activity," the report
- Compared to the SARS outbreak, "a flu pandemic
could be substantially more damaging in both human and economic terms,"
- The study examines two possible scenarios of a bird
flu outbreak: the first being a mild outbreak with an infection rate of
20 percent and a population mortality rate of 0.1 percent, which is equivalent
to 3 million dead in Asia, with serious economic effects lasting two quarters.
- The second models the same health outcome but with
the serious economic effects lasting four quarters and a psychological
impact stretching beyond Asia.
- The report said outcomes of a potential pandemic
will basically depend on public policy responses. Governments and international
organizations can do much to "moderate the downside risk through appropriate
and timely public policies, especially coordinating activities and sharing
- "Governments and international agencies should
act transparently and disseminate accurate and timely information,"
the report said. "Recent experiences with SARS and other disease outbreaks
have shown that the public and markets often become panic in the face of
- In the case of the first scenario, Asia could face
a demand shock of around 99 billion US dollars in its 2006 GDP, the equivalent
of 2.3 percentage points lost.
- Some Asian economies could be harder hit than others,
depending on their vulnerability to external shocks and whether they depend
on a significant quantity of services, including tourism, said the report.
- In the second scenario, Asian consumers and investors
would reduce their activity and the rest of the world would cut back on
consumption. The estimated loss to the region could be 283 billion US dollars,
or around 6.5 percentage points of GDP, resulting in cutback in Asia's
GDP growth to 0.1 percent.
- "The psychological impact of the disease may
be long lasting," the report said. "Much of the Asian boom is
built on confidence in the region's growth potential. A pandemic could
shake that confidence and lower future investment." Enditem