The recovery from a decline in mainland output of 3.2% in 2020 will be muted by continued localised restrictions to tackle COVID-19 outbreaks, weak oil-sector investment and continued disruption to travel, hospitality and related sectors. Real mainland GDP is projected to increase by 3.1% in 2021 and 1.4% in 2022. Labour market recovery will be correspondingly slow and consumer price inflation will remain muted. Diminished need for restrictions as an effective vaccine is rolled out, and associated pick-ups in hard hit sectors and rising confidence, will contribute to output growth in 2022.
The scale and timing of the monetary and fiscal policy response to COVID-19 has remained broadly appropriate. The fiscal rule that links mainland deficits to wealth-fund returns should remain firmly in place as it allows ample room to support the recovery while also providing long-term fiscal guidance. Recovery will be helped by measures proposed in the national budget 2021 to encourage further return to work, strengthen the business environment and encourage green growth.