Macroeconomic environment

Following the global economic downturn in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, catch-up effects and a powerful upturn are expected for 2021. According to estimates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global economy is set to expand by 5.5 %. Although the pace of the global economic recovery has slowed due to the second wave of infections, experts believe that the upturn will only be temporarily restrained. Especially over the course of the year, the infection rate is expected to abate and the measures taken to contain the pandemic will gradually be eased.

Global trade tensions faded into the background in 2020 but have not yet been resolved. With the change of government in the USA, the climate for global trade may improve. The uncertainty surrounding the impact of Brexit remains, however. In view of the global economic recovery, the IMF expects to a strong increase in global trade volumes of 8.1 % in 2021.

Growth expectations for GDP

Growth expactation in %




Trend vs. 2020





Advanced economies








Emerging economies
















Central and Eastern Europe (emerging european economies)








World trade




Source: International Monetary Fund (IMF), January 2021

The outlook for the economic regions of particular significance to HHLA varies for 2021, with the IMF anticipating impressive economic growth of 8.1 % for China in its latest estimates. Effective containment measures, a firm political response with public and liquidity support from the Chinese central bank are likely to facilitate a rapid return to normal and strong upswing for the Chinese economy. By contrast, the recovery of oil-exporting nations such as Russia is likely to be somewhat slower in view of the modest prospects for oil prices. For the emerging economies of Central and Eastern Europe, the IMF forecasts economic growth of 4.0 %. In Ukraine, a moderate recovery of 3.0 % is anticipated for 2021, although this is conditional on successfully combating the pandemic and implementing reforms (IMF, October 2020).

Overall economic activity in the eurozone is expected to decrease again in the winter quarters of 2020/21 due to the second wave of infections and the reintroduction of extensive containment measures. According to the most recent IMF estimates of October 2020, Estonian GDP is expected to achieve significant growth of 4.5 %. The IMF expects a moderate recovery for the German economy. The anticipated recovery in the course of the year, particularly in the EU, is subject to sufficient availability of suitable vaccines.


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