What started as a novel virus in China quickly became a sweeping disease that shut down the world and put a 1.5 year halt on the global economy.
But while some countries’ economies are already back to normal, others are lagging far behind.
COVID-19 Recovery Timelines, by OECD Country
This chart using data from the OECD anticipates when countries will economically recover from the global pandemic, based on getting back to pre-pandemic levels of GDP per capita.
Note: The categorization of ‘advanced’ or ‘emerging’ economy was determined by OECD standards.
The Leaders of the Pack
At the top, China and the U.S. are recovering at breakneck speed. In fact, recovering is the wrong word for China, as they reached pre-pandemic GDP per capita levels just after Q2’2020.
On the other end, some countries are looking at years—not months—when it comes to their recovery date. Saudi Arabia isn’t expected to recover until after Q1’2024, and Argentina is estimated to have an even slower recovery, occurring only after Q2’2026.
|🇧🇪 Belgium||After Q4 2022||Advanced|
|🇸🇪 Sweden||After Q4 2021||Advanced|
|🇸🇰 Slovakia||After Q4 2021||Advanced|
|🇳🇿 New Zealand||After Q4 2021||Advanced|
|🇩🇪 Germany||After Q4 2021||Advanced|
|🇪🇪 Estonia||After Q4 2021||Advanced|
|🇩🇰 Denmark||After Q4 2021||Advanced|
|🇮🇸 Iceland||After Q3 2023||Advanced|
|🇸🇮 Slovenia||After Q3 2022||Advanced|
|🇵🇹 Portugal||After Q3 2022||Advanced|
|🇫🇷 France||After Q3 2022||Advanced|
|🇦🇹 Austria||After Q3 2022||Advanced|
|🇵🇱 Poland||After Q3 2021||Advanced|
|🇳🇴 Norway||After Q3 2021||Advanced|
|🇱🇺 Luxembourg||After Q3 2021||Advanced|
|🇱🇻 Latvia||After Q3 2021||Advanced|
|🇯🇵 Japan||After Q3 2021||Advanced|
|🇫🇮 Finland||After Q3 2021||Advanced|
|🇪🇸 Spain||After Q2 2023||Advanced|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||After Q2 2022||Advanced|
|🇳🇱 Netherlands||After Q2 2022||Advanced|
|🇮🇹 Italy||After Q2 2022||Advanced|
|🇬🇷 Greece||After Q2 2022||Advanced|
|🇨🇿 Czech Republic||After Q2 2022||Advanced|
|🇨🇦 Canada||After Q2 2022||Advanced|
|🇺🇸 United States||After Q2 2021||Advanced|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||After Q2 2021||Advanced|
|🇮🇪 Ireland||After Q2 2021||Advanced|
|🇨🇭 Switzerland||After Q1 2022||Advanced|
|🇮🇱 Israel||After Q1 2022||Advanced|
|🇭🇺 Hungary||After Q1 2022||Advanced|
|🇦🇺 Australia||After Q1 2022||Advanced|
|🇱🇹 Lithuania||After Q1 2021||Advanced|
|🇿🇦 South Africa||After Q4 2022||Emerging|
|🇮🇩 Indonesia||After Q4 2021||Emerging|
|🇮🇳 India||After Q4 2021||Emerging|
|🇲🇽 Mexico||After Q3 2023||Emerging|
|🇨🇴 Colombia||After Q3 2022||Emerging|
|🇧🇷 Brazil||After Q3 2022||Emerging|
|🇨🇱 Chile||After Q3 2021||Emerging|
|🇹🇷 Turkey||After Q3 2020||Emerging|
|🇦🇷 Argentina||After Q2 2026||Emerging|
|🇨🇷 Costa Rica||After Q2 2023||Emerging|
|🇷🇺 Russia||After Q2 2021||Emerging|
|🇨🇳 China||After Q2 2020||Emerging|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||After Q1 2024||Emerging|
Most countries will hit pre-pandemic levels of GDP per capita by the end of 2022. The slowest recovering advanced economies—Iceland and Spain—aren’t expected to bounce back until 2023.
Four emerging economies are speeding ahead, and are predicted to get back on their feet by the end of this year or slightly later (if they haven’t already):
- 🇷🇺 Russia: after Q2’2021
- 🇨🇱 Chile: after Q3’2021
- 🇮🇳 India: after Q4’2021
- 🇮🇩 Indonesia: after Q4’2021
However, no recovery is guaranteed, and many countries will continue face setbacks as waves of COVID-19 variants hit—India, for example, was battling its biggest wave as recently as May 2021.
Why are some countries recovering faster than others? One factor seems to be vaccination rates.
|Country||Doses Administered per 100 People||Total Doses Administered||Percent of Population Fully Vaccinated|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||122||81,438,892||53%|
|Trinidad and Tobago||27||375,924||11%|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||23||25,509||–|
|West Bank & Gaza||20||958,519||9%|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||18||37,716||5%|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||14||470,218||5%|
|Republic of the Congo||3||163,742||–|
|Central African Republic||1.7||78,685||–|
|Papua New Guinea||0.6||51,170||<0.1%|
As of July 16th, 2021.
The higher the rate of vaccination, the harder it is for COVID-19 to spread. This gives countries a chance to loosen restrictions, let people get back to work and regular life, and fuel the economy. Additionally, the quicker vaccines are rolled out, the less time there is for variants to mutate.
Another factor is the overall strength of a country’s healthcare infrastructure. More advanced economies often have more ICU capacity, more efficient dissemination of public health information, and, simply, more hospital staff. These traits help better handle the pandemic, with reduced cases, less restrictions, and a speedy recovery.
Finally, the level of government support and fiscal stimulus injected into different economies has determined how swiftly they’ve recovered. Similar to the disparity in vaccine rollouts, there was a significant fiscal stimulus gap, especially during the heat of the pandemic.
Recovering to Normal?
Many experts and government leaders are now advocating for funneling more money into healthcare infrastructure and disease research preventatively. The increased funding now would help stop worldwide shut downs and needless loss of life in future.
Time will tell when we return to “normal” everywhere, however, normal will likely never be the same. Many impacts of the global pandemic will stay with us over the long term.
China’s Growing Trade Dominance in Latin America
Over the last two decades, trade between China and Latin America has grown significantly, which has threatened U.S. dominance in the region.
China’s Growing Trade Dominance in Latin America
Over the past 20 years, China’s economic presence around the world has grown significantly, including in Latin America.
Now, China is one of Latin America’s largest trade partners, which is threatening U.S. dominance in the region. This graphic by Latinometrics uses IMF data to show trade flows between China and Latin America since the 1980s.
Two Decades of Trade Growth
Four decades ago, the United States had a much stronger trade relationship with Latin America than China did. In 1981, Cuba was the only Latin American country trading more with China than the United States.
Here’s a look at total trade flows between Latin America and the two countries since 1980. Latinometrics calculated trade flows as total exports plus imports.
|Trade Flows by Year||U.S. & Latin America||China & Latin America|
Things stayed relatively stagnant until the early 2000s. Then suddenly, at the start of the new millennium, trade between China and Latin America started to ramp up.
This uptick was driven largely by Chinese demand for things like copper, oil, and other raw materials that the country needed to help fuel its industrial revolution.
Momentum has continued for two decades, and now China is the top trading partner in nine different Latin American countries. In fact, in 2021, imports and exports between China and Latin America (excluding Mexico) reached $247 billion—that’s $73 billion more than trade flows with the United States that same year.
Trade between China and Latin America is expected to keep growing, at least for the time being. By 2035, trade flows between the two regions are projected to more than double, according to World Economic Forum.
China’s Global Economic Presence
China’s trade takeover of Latin America speaks to a wider trend that’s happening on a global scale—over the last two decades, China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest trading partner.
While China is likely to remain the world’s leading trade partner for the foreseeable future, growth is likely to slow in the short-term, given ongoing supply chain issues and geopolitical tensions that have disrupted the global economy.
Visualized: The Value of U.S. Imports of Goods by State
U.S. goods imports were worth $2.8T in 2021. From east coast to west, this visualization breaks down imports on a state-by-state basis
Visualized: The Value of U.S. Imports of Goods by State 2021
For nearly 50 years and counting, U.S. imports have exceeded exports—and 2021 was no exception. Imports of goods to the U.S. equaled $2.8 trillion, relative to $1.8 trillion for exports, putting the 2021 goods trade deficit at its highest level on record.
Using the most recent data on global trade from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, we take a closer look at the value of American goods imports and visualize them state by state.
The Top 10 Importing States, by Total Goods Value
The top 10 states by import value account for 64.5% of all U.S. imports, or $1.8 trillion.
|Rank||State||Import Value ($B)||Share (%)|
|Top 10 States||$1,838.6||64.5%|
Overall, the goods trade deficit—the amount by which a country’s imports exceed its exports—was more than $1 trillion in 2021, increasing over 18% from the previous year. Goods imports specifically increased by nearly $502 billion, a 21% increase year-over-year.
California, the U.S.’s top importer, saw over $470 billion worth of goods come in last year. Some of its big ticket items fell in line with the state’s tech sector’s needs, like automatic data processing machines and accessories and parts for said machinery. California’s own deficit is quite high—the state’s goods exports were only valued at approximately $175 billion. The state’s busy ports are a key entry point for goods arriving from Asia, which helps explain this deficit.
In contrast, the country’s top export state is Texas at $375 billion, outweighing its imports and shipping out goods like coal and petroleum. All but three of the country’s top importers—Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Georgia—were also among the country’s top 10 exporters.
Where are Imports Coming From?
Here’s a look at the country’s top trade partners for goods imports and the value of their imports in 2022 as of April.
|Rank||Country||Import Value ($B) as of April '22||Share of Total|
|#7||🇰🇷 South Korea||$36.5||3.5%|
Over half of the top import partners for the United States are located in Asia. China is by far America’s top source of goods, making up 17% of the country’s imports.
Meanwhile, Canada and Mexico each account for roughly 14% of America’s goods imports due to the close proximity, strong economic ties, and trade agreements.
What’s Being Imported?
Imports of goods increased to a value of $2.8 trillion in 2021, the highest on record. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, industrial supplies and materials and crude oil saw some of the most notable increases.
Consumer goods like cell phones, household goods, toys, games, and sporting equipment increased in import value as well, reflecting a trend that the pandemic’s online shopping and delivery demand started.
Additionally, imports of foods, feeds, and beverages were the highest on record in 2021. It is also notable that in April of 2022, exports of goods hit the highest number on record at nearly $175 billion, with exports of feeds, food, and beverage also reaching the highest number of exports recorded. This is likely attributed to food shortages worldwide caused by the war in Ukraine.