- Despite better-than-expected growth in the first quarter, we continue to forecast a sharp slowdown in 2023 for most emerging markets (EMs), excluding China, following strong growth in 2022.
- Headline EM inflation has dropped, but in emerging EMEA and Latin America (excluding Brazil), it remains above central banks' targets.
- We forecast annual average inflation in emerging Asia (excluding the Philippines) to come within central banks' targets in 2023, but for most other EMs, returning to their central bank targets by the end of 2024 will be a bumpy ride.
- Monetary tightening cycles are at or near the end in most EMs given moderating inflation, weakening growth, and declining long-term U.S. bond yields.
We continue to expect emerging market (EM) countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) and Latin America to grow well below long-term trends the next 12 months (see table 1). We kept our forecasts for emerging Asia, excluding China, broadly unchanged--India and countries in Southeast Asia will grow a tad under their longer-run trends.
External conditions will be tough. We see EMs gradually returning to their potential growth rates later in 2024 and 2025 as inflationary pressures recede and central banks begin to ease.
Emerging Market Countries
Emerging market countries in our sample are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru in Latin America; Hungary, Poland, Turkiye, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa in EMEA; and China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam in Asia.
Uncertainty in the global financial markets has eased recently. In the U.S., the Fiscal Responsibility Act was passed, which aimed to raise the debt ceiling and, thus, avoid a sovereign default, and the situation in the banking system has improved. Second, while the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues with no end in sight, geopolitical risk appears to have subsided somewhat from last year's peak (see chart 1)--yet risks to commodity markets could rise at any time. And last, the World Health Organization recently declared an end to the pandemic as a public health emergency after death rates decreased significantly and pressure on once overwhelmed health systems eased (see chart 2). Most countries have returned to pre-pandemic norms of living and economic activity.
Still, rising cost of capital and elevated policy uncertainty constrain growth (see charts 3 and 4). The taming of global risks is unlikely to result in an acceleration of economic growth in the second half of this year. Central banks' restrictive monetary policy--in the U.S. and the eurozone, we see further rate hikes--will act as a headwind for the global economy for at least the next 12 months. We expect the Fed to raise the policy rate once more this summer and hold it steady at 5.25%-5.50% for the rest of 2023 and midway through 2024, keeping real rates elevated while core inflation moderates gradually. We revised up growth for the U.S. and the eurozone in the first quarter, but both are poised to falter well below potential growth in the next 12-18 months.
The growth narrative for EMs remains generally unchanged from our last publication in March. We expect real GDP growth to slow sharply this year in most EMs after remarkably strong performance in 2022, with China and Thailand as notable exceptions (see table 1).
Common factors slowing growth in 2023 are:
- Fading post-pandemic recovery momentum,
- Weakened demand from key major trading partners,
- Still-elevated prices eating into disposable income growth, and
- Higher interest rates (globally and locally) holding back consumption and investment.
|Summary of GDP growth forecasts|
|--Change from March 2023 forecasts--|
|Real GDP (%)||2019||2020||2021||2022||2023f||2024f||2025f||2026f||2023f||2024f||2025f||2026f|
|EM-17 (excluding China)||2.7||(4.6)||7.1||5.6||3.3||4.0||4.3||4.4||0.0||(0.1)||0.0||0.1|
|Other key economies|
|f--S&P Global Ratings' forecasts. For India, 2019 = FY 2019/2020, 2020 = FY 2020/2021, 2026 = FY 2026/2027. Fiscal year (FY) year begins on April of calendar year. Aggregates are weighted by PPP GDP (2017-2021 average) share of total. Saudi Arabia forecasts were created before revised Q1 2023 estimates were published by the Saudi Statistical Authority. Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence.|
The post-pandemic inflation surge is behind most EMs, thanks mostly to energy (and somewhat to food) inflation, but core inflation (excluding food and energy) remains stubbornly high in many. Headline consumer and producer inflation have come down faster as:
- Industrial metals prices dropped considerably recently,
- Supply-chain bottlenecks eased to pre-pandemic levels,
- Food commodity prices continued to come down, and
- Oil remained at the low point of its recent price range of $70-$80 per barrel (bbl), which is down from around $115/bbl in June last year (despite Saudi Arabia's efforts to prop it up).
To be sure, core inflation and headline inflation remain elevated year over year and above central banks' targets for most (charts 5 and 6). Only recently has core inflation showed signs of easing in sequential terms, but more disinflation needs to happen to get back to the pre-pandemic normal. Inflation pressures have receded as exchange rates have appreciated year to date, except for Argentina, Turkiye, South Africa, Malaysia, and China (see chart 7). As we pointed out in our last publication, the fear of China's reopening stoking inflation proved to be unfounded.
We forecast inflation to decline further in the coming months given sharp base effects, slowing growth, and fading global goods shortages. It won't be a smooth decline, but we forecast that for annual average Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation for EMs, the median will reach 5.8% this year (was 5.6% in our March forecast), from 7.4% last year. We expect emerging Asia (excluding the Philippines) will be within their central bank target ranges in 2023, and other EMs (excluding Turkiye and Argentina) will return to their central bank target ranges by the end of 2024.
While weaker-than-expected demand could lead to further downward pressure on core prices, the Russia-Ukraine conflict could spur higher inflation than we forecast. Russia has agreed to extend the Black Sea grain deal--which should help contain food inflation at the margin--but this is still at risk of getting scrapped any day. We also do not yet know the extent of damage that flooding in Ukraine, from the burst dam this month, has had on the harvest.
Also, the effect of El Nino could pose an upside risk to prices. The chances of an El Nino this year are three times higher than normal, which also means drier conditions, including drought, in West Africa, southern Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, and northern areas of South America and Central America. This is likely to affect production prospects of key crops, like wheat, corn, and oilseeds, and might alter trade routes.
|Consumer Price Index inflation (year average)|
|(%)||2019||2020||2021||2022||2023f||2024f||2025f||2026f||Central bank inflation target|
|Brazil§||3.7||3.2||8.3||9.3||5.2||4.2||3.8||3.6||3.25% +/- 1.5%|
|Chile||2.3||3.0||4.5||11.6||7.9||3.7||3.3||3.0||3.0% +/- 1.0%|
|Colombia||3.5||2.5||3.5||10.2||11.4||4.3||3.3||3.0||3.0% +/- 1.0%|
|Mexico||3.6||3.4||5.7||7.9||5.7||4.2||3.2||3.0||3.0% +/- 1.0%|
|Peru||2.1||1.8||4.0||7.9||6.6||2.9||2.3||2.0||1.0% - 3.0%|
|India||4.8||6.2||5.5||6.7||5.0||4.5||4.5||4.8||4.0 +/- 2.0%|
|Indonesia||2.8||2.0||1.6||4.2||3.9||3.5||3.4||3.2||3.5% +/- 1.0%|
|Philippines||2.4||2.4||3.9||5.8||5.9||3.1||3.3||2.9||3.0% +/- 1.0%|
|Thailand||0.7||(0.8)||1.2||6.1||1.9||1.1||0.7||0.6||2.5% +/- 1.5%|
|Hungary*||3.4||3.4||5.2||15.3||18.1||5.1||3.7||3.5||3.0% +/- 1.0%|
|Poland*||2.1||3.7||5.2||13.3||11.7||6.2||3.1||3.0||2.5% +/- 1.0%|
|Turkiye||15.2||12.3||19.6||72.3||43.7||34.1||20.6||10.1||5.0% +/- 2.0%|
|Saudi Arabia||(2.1)||3.5||3.1||2.5||2.9||2.2||2.0||1.8||No target|
|South Africa||4.1||3.3||4.6||6.9||6.1||5.1||4.1||4.5||3.0% - 6.0%|
|f--S&P Global Ratings' forecast *Poland and Hungary are reflective of HICP measure of inflation. §Brazil's inflation target for 2023 is 3.25%+/- 1.5%; for 2024 and 2025, it is 3% +/- 1.5%. Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence.|
Decelerating inflation and slowing growth ease pressure on EM central banks to hike rates, but the Fed's forward guidance on interest rate policy indicates more tightening ahead. Given expected disinflation, several central banks have signaled an end to their rate hikes, including Brazil, Chile, Poland, and Hungary. As the Fed continues to raise interest rates, however, risk of capital outflows in EMs should remain elevated.
In our view, the persistently high core inflation and tight labor market conditions in the advanced economies are unlikely to prompt their central banks to change tightening course in the short term. Most EM central banks are unlikely to do more than pause rate hikes, in part to protect capital flows and the value of their currency, while the Fed has yet to definitively signal an end to tightening.
|Policy rates % (end of period)|
|Note: For China, the One-Year Medium-Term Lending Facility rate is shown. f--S&P Global Ratings' forecast. For comparison, the U.S. Federal Reserve policy rates (mid-point) are anticipated to be 5.38%, 4.38%, 2.88%, and 2.63% at the end of 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026, respectively. At the end of 2022, the fed policy rate was 4.38%. Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence.|
Interest rate differentials and developments in the current account consistent with our forecasts put U.S. dollar exchange rates in a holding pattern this year and next (see table 4).
|Exchange rates versus US$ (year average)|
|f--S&P Global Ratings' forecast. Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence.|
We project GDP growth in the region to slow to 1.1% in 2023, from 3.7% in 2022, owing to a cyclical slowdown in domestic demand. We then see growth recovering moderately to 1.5% in 2024, though that's below potential, which we estimate is 2.0%-2.5%.
We revised growth slightly higher this year, on the back of better-than-expected first-quarter performance, but lowered our 2024 growth forecast. The solid first-quarter performance was mostly due to a positive contribution from net exports, which, in turn, was mostly a result of a decline in imports. Meanwhile, domestic demand continues to weaken in every major Latin American economy, except for Mexico, where strong remittances have contributed to resilient consumption. Sluggish growth in key partners, mainly the U.S., will keep exports subdued in the region next year even as domestic demand rebounds on lower inflation and looser monetary policy.
Inflation in the region has started to ease more noticeably in recent months on lower food prices. Core inflation has also slowed down. Weakness in domestic demand, lower commodity prices than last year, and stronger exchange rates will help inflation to continue to moderate in the coming months, which we expect will allow central banks to start lowering interest rates.
We expect Chile and Brazil (in that order) to be the first major central banks to cut interest rates, likely in the third quarter. In both cases, real interest rates are more than 300 basis points above pre-pandemic levels (see chart 8), and the outlook for domestic demand is for more weakness in the coming quarters. We then expect Colombia, Mexico, and Peru to start cutting interest rates early in 2024, closer to the start of interest rate cuts by the Fed (which we see in mid-2024).
U.S. nearshoring of manufacturing has the potential to increase Mexico's GDP growth significantly, but the obstacles are significant. Nearshoring has gained attention as supply-chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic made a case for manufacturers to diversify the location of their operations, to minimize production disruptions. Tensions between the U.S. and China, especially around technology, may have also encouraged companies to move some manufacturing production out of China.
Mexico's long-standing manufacturing linkages with, and access to, the U.S. market make it an obvious potential beneficiary for nearshoring. In a hypothetical scenario in which 1% of total manufacturing output from China is shifted to Mexico gradually over the next five years, we estimate annual real GDP growth for Mexico would average roughly 2.6%, compared with our 2.0% baseline.
However, the obstacles for nearshoring to fully materialize in Mexico are significant. These including inadequate supply of water and energy (especially clean energy), as well as security-related concerns. (For more, see "For Mexico, Nearshoring's Potential Benefits--And Obstacles--Are Significant," published Feb. 1, 2023.)
Saudi Arabia saw the largest downward growth revision. Growth will now likely come in near stagnant in 2023 (versus 3.2% in our March forecast), with Saudi Arabia's decision to cut oil production. Saudi Arabia reportedly will maintain the cut of 1 million barrels per day (on top of the 500,000 million barrels per day announced in April), equivalent to around 10% of Saudi oil output, until the end of 2023 and then likely increase output slowly--consistent with sluggish global growth. As a result, we have significantly lowered the oil sector's contribution to growth for 2024 as well.
While the oil economy (38% of the economy) will clearly be a drag this year, the non-oil economy will continue to shine at above 5% growth this year and next. In our view, weak global growth is not much of a factor for the Saudi non-oil economy in the short term. The economy will continue to benefit from large investment projects toward the country's Vision 2030 program, largely funded by the Public Investment Fund (the country's main sovereign wealth fund with a wide mandate to invest abroad and domestically) and the National Development Fund. Overall real GDP growth should rebound to a healthy 3.5% average the next three years.
Turkiye's domestic demand appeared to be better than our expectations due to wage increases, and that prompted us to slightly raise our 2023 projections. However, we expect domestic demand to continue slowing owing to tightening financial conditions and a forthcoming rebalancing of the economy. Following recent appointments in the ministry of finance, the central bank, and other key institutions, as well as an interest rate hike (to 15% on June 22 from 8.5%), we expect a transition to tighter monetary conditions to continue with more rate hikes this year. Our baseline forecast includes significant tightening of financing conditions, continued currency depreciation (and an associated pickup in inflation), and a slowdown in domestic demand--regarding both consumption and investment.
In South Africa, prospects are dim for the near term given the ongoing electricity crisis and logistics crisis. The country is facing severe electricity shortages and transportation bottlenecks. The government has introduced measures to encourage private-sector growth and renewable electricity generation, but it will take time for additional power supply to improve electricity availability for the wider economy. Uncertainty surrounding electricity dynamics remains high, handicapping the agriculture, mining, and manufacturing sectors.
We assume conditions will improve somewhat from current stagnant growth past the winter in the southern hemisphere as pent-up capacity improvements facilitate higher growth in 2024 and beyond. Still, next year's economic growth prospects are also limited by weak global demand and higher interest rates to fight inflation.
Weakening investor sentiment has underlined somewhat weakening currency this year despite the South Africa Reserve Bank hiking rates to maintain otherwise favorable interest rate differentials for investors. Rand vulnerability is expected to remain elevated, with the currency expected to make up only some of its losses toward year-end.
In Central and Eastern Europe, Poland beat our growth expectations and Hungary underperformed relative to our consumption growth expectations in the first quarter. In the case of Poland, nearshoring, an increase in exports of IT services, and higher military spending are likely to support growth beyond 2023, particular in terms of investments and exports. We expect Poland's inflation to reach its central bank's target range of 1.5%-3.5% no earlier than 2025. The Polish zloty has been appreciating earlier this year. And given that inflation is likely to decrease sharply this year, we now expect the Polish central bank to start cutting its interest rates in late 2023.
Similarly, we anticipate Hungary's central bank to take into consideration the improving exchange rate and inflation dynamics and remove emergency measures by September-October and start base rate cuts by December.
Exchange rates in Hungary and Poland have been appreciating since the beginning of the year (see chart 9). Decreasing energy import bills, improved market sentiment, and a fall in domestic consumption in the first quarter (and, subsequently, in imports) have supported current accounts and, therefore, exchange rates. In early 2022, Hungary and Poland both achieved current account surplus for the first time since 2021. We expect slight appreciation to continue, but we also expect some exchange rate weakening in late 2023/early 2024, since we expect the central banks to start easing their monetary stances.
In S&P Global Ratings' view, China's GDP growth target of "around 5%" for 2023 is relatively unambitious. China's rebound from 3% last year is positive, but our downwardly revised GDP growth forecast, now 5.2% for 2023, is low by historical standards. China's economy picked up in the first quarter of 2023, led by consumption and services, and consumer demand has continued to recover in recent months. But amid subdued investment and exports, manufacturing momentum has weakened. Also, consumer confidence is recovering only slowly.
Macroeconomic policy is likely to be supportive, but not significantly expansionary, as indicated at the National People's Congress meetings earlier this year. Yet following recent steps, such as the 10-basis-point cut in the policy rate, some further policy easing is likely. Any further setbacks to growth and confidence in coming months would trigger more measures. While we expect policymakers to keep such support limited, it should effectively put a floor under growth.
We maintain our expectation for a slowdown in Southeast Asia and India to a still-respectable pace in 2023, with a more pronounced deceleration in economies heavily exposed to slowing global trade and interest rate headwinds. In the second half of the year, more positive spillover from China's recovery should somewhat offset the impact of weaker growth in the U.S. and Europe. We expect broadly resilient domestic demand this year, but momentum is likely to ease.
The Asian emerging market economies remain among the fastest-growing ones in our global growth outlook through 2026. India, Vietnam, and the Philippines continue to lead, with average growth of 6.7%, 6.6%, and 6.1%, respectively, in 2023-2026.
In India, we forecast growth of 6% in fiscal 2024 as reopening momentum gradually fades and tighter monetary policy restrains activity. Private consumer demand is slowing against this backdrop, with urban consumers faring better than rural. Agriculture and construction activity has shown resilient growth, though agriculture performance in the coming fiscal year will be affected by El Nino conditions. Beyond this fiscal year, we expect growth close to 7.0% on strong investment and domestic consumer demand.
Under the assumption of normal monsoons, we expect headline consumer inflation to soften to 5% in fiscal 2024 (ending March 31, 2024) from 6.7% the prior fiscal year. Softer crude prices and tempering of demand will bring down fuel and core inflation. The inflation and rate hike cycles have peaked, in our opinion. We don't expect the Reserve Bank of India to cut rates until early 2024 since it first wants to see consumer inflation moving to 4%, the center of its target range.
In Southeast Asia, an increase in tourism has bolstered growth, with tourist arrivals recovered to about 50%-60% of pre-COVID-19 levels. This recovery has improved activity and supported services inflows for the region. Pent-up demand from Chinese tourists should further drive growth throughout the year in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand, where tourism is set for a strong year after more than two years of pandemic-driven doldrums.
On the other hand, manufacturing activity has generally been softer. Trade flows have been moderating, and weaker external demand, in particular for electronics, is weighing on growth. We expect external demand for goods to remain soft this year while global growth is slowing. As we have stressed before, that is especially so given the consumption and domestic services-led nature of China's acceleration.
Central banks responded to rising inflation by raising policy rates gradually over the past year. Tighter monetary policy is having an economic impact in the region. Systemwide credit growth has slowed. Restrictive monetary policy will weigh on the Philippines (high nominal rate) and Indonesia (high real rate) more visibly in the second half of the year. Inflationary pressures have eased, and core inflation has declined since January.
We expect central banks to maintain current monetary policy settings through the year. Vietnam stands out as the only central bank in the region that has begun easing monetary policy sharply to counter slowing economic activity and demand.
China's rebound will provide some boost to the EMs in 2023. The expected rebound in Chinese growth, after reopening its economy from COVID-19 late last year, creates some upside for EMs. We expect emerging Asia to benefit the most from the reopening of the Chinese economy, mainly through a revival in tourism (see "Which Emerging Markets Benefit The Most From A Reopening In China?," published Feb. 1, 2023). Data so far confirms this, with Chinese tourist arrivals in emerging Asia increasing, while exports from Latin America to China are not showing signs of picking up (see chart 11).
However, if the reactivation of the Chinese economy is accompanied by a strong recovery in infrastructure that increases demand for industrial metals, then several exporters of those commodities would benefit, including Brazil, Chile, and Peru.
Risks To Baseline Growth
We see EMs gradually returning to their potential growth rates later in 2024 and 2025. But numerous risks could weigh on growth, including slowdowns in the U.S. and Europe, a setback in China's recovery, sharper global financial tightening, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict dealing another inflationary shock.
|Unemployment (year average)|
|f--S&P Global Ratings' forecast. Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence.|
|Exchange rates versus US$ (end of period)|
|f--S&P Global Ratings' forecast. Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence.|
- Economic Outlook U.S. Q3 2023: A Sticky Slowdown Means Higher For Longer, June 26, 2023
- Economic Outlook Eurozone Q3 2023: Short-Term Pain, Medium-Term Gain, June 26, 2023
- Economic Outlook Asia-Pacific Q3 2023: Domestic Demand, Inflation Relief Support Asia's Outlook, June 25, 2023
- Asia-Pacific In 2023: China Rebound Cannot Offset Western Slowdown, Feb. 22, 2023
- Which Emerging Markets Benefit The Most From A Reopening In China?, Feb. 1, 2023
- What A Hard Landing For The U.S. Economy Would Mean For Emerging Markets, Aug. 3, 2022
- Emerging Market Economies Are Vulnerable To A Downturn In Europe, July 19, 2022
The views expressed here are the independent opinions of S&P Global Ratings' economics group, which is separate from, but provides forecasts and other input to, S&P Global Ratings' analysts. The economic views herein may be incorporated into S&P Global Ratings' credit ratings; however, credit ratings are determined and assigned by ratings committees, exercising analytical judgment in accordance with S&P Global Ratings' publicly available methodologies.
This report does not constitute a rating action.
|Chief Economist, Emerging Markets:||Satyam Panday, San Francisco + 1 (212) 438 6009;|
|Lead Economist, LatAm:||Elijah Oliveros-Rosen, New York + 1 (212) 438 2228;|
|Senior Economist, APAC:||Vishrut Rana, Singapore + 65 6216 1008;|
|Economist, Emerging EMEA:||Valerijs Rezvijs, London (44) 79-2965-1386;|
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