According to estimates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), gross domestic product (GDP) made surprisingly good progress on the whole during the first quarter of 2021, especially in Asia and Latin America. However, the upturn in industrial output and global trade was hampered by supply constraints and logistical issues. In Europe, the recovery was additionally restrained by high infection rates and measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Experts forecast that the recovery will continue to gather pace in the second quarter – particularly in those economies in which infection rates are under control and vaccination rates are enabling an easing of pandemic-related restrictions.
While the Chinese economy displayed strong growth of 18.3 % driven by catch-up effects in the first quarter of 2021, growth returned to a more normal rate of 7.9 % in the second quarter. Overall, Beijing reported an increase in GDP of 12.7 % for the first six months of 2021. Russia continues to suffer from low oil prices and reported a decrease in economic output of 0.7 %. In comparison to the same quarter in 2020, which was still largely unaffected by the pandemic, Eurostat estimates that GDP in the eurozone fell slightly by 1.3 % in the first three months of 2021. Trends varied widely in the different countries. While Estonia registered strong GDP growth of 5.0 % and Eastern European countries such as Slovenia and Slovakia also performed well, the economies of Hungary (- 1.6 %), the Czech Republic (- 1.8 %) and Germany (- 3.1 %) were only able to cushion the negative consequences of the pandemic.
According to the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), exports in Germany during May 2021 were 0.3 % below the pre-pandemic level of February 2020, while imports were up significantly by 9.4 %. Compared to the previous quarter, exports increased by 0.3 % and imports by 3.4 % in May 2021.