The coronavirus pandemic has plunged the global economy into the largest global economic recession in more than 80 years. As the virus spread rampantly across the globe, starting in early 2020, economic activity came to a standstill as lockdowns were imposed across the globe.
The case was no different for Bangladesh, an aspiring middle-income country heavily dependent on its service sector. Economic activity seized and concerns grew, especially as businesses scrambled for bailout funds from the government.
However, shattering all pessimism regarding Bangladesh's future economic prospects, Bangladesh's economic activity has bounced back to pre-coronavirus levels, according to Google's COVID-19 Mobility Report published in December 2020.
.Mobility or Movement Index is computed by comparing current levels of activity in retrospect to pre-coronavirus levels of activity.
The 5 key areas where movement is compared are Parks, Workplaces, Transits and Stations, Residential Areas, Retail and Recreation, and Groceries and Pharmacies.
A value of zero in the Movement Index indicates pre-coronavirus levels of activity. Any index value below zero indicates decrease in activity, while any value above 0 indicates activity levels higher than pre-coronavirus levels.
Following the first case detected in early March,2020, nationwide lockdowns were imposed. As the lockdowns were extended incrementally up to late May, experts worried about the detrimental impact of the lockdowns on small and medium enterprises, which represent more than 70% of the country's businesses and contribute 25% to the GDP
During the lockdown, retail and recreation activity had dipped 76% below pre-coronavirus activity baseline. Grocery and pharmacy activity had shrunk 56%, transits and station activity fell 70%, and workplace activity fell 66% below baseline.
During the same period, residential activity rose more than 26% over the pre-coronavirus activity baseline.
By the end of the lockdowns, the outlook of the economy was bleak. In fact, the World Bank projected a negative 1.6% real GDP growth for Bangladesh in 2021, the lowest growth compared to India and Pakistan, since sluggish economic activity was expected throughout most of 2020 and 2021.
Despite all odds, Bangladesh's economy has been resilient. As of 30th December, 2020, Mobility index for all 6 key areas except retail is higher than pre-coronavirus levels.
At this level of activity, fast recovery is expected in key industries like retail and tourism, and economic growth shall follow in tandem.
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