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Economic growth exceeds IMF forecasts

Tourism and gambling have allowed Macau's GDP to recover to two thirds of what it was in the pre-pandemic period. This means that, for the time being, the MSAR is above the International Monetary Fund's forecasts, revised in October. The city holds the title of the world's fastest-growing economy and everything points to it retaining this position in 2024.

Nelson Moura

In the first three quarters of 2023, GDP recorded an annual increase of 77.7 per cent, according to recent data from the Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC). In real terms, Macau’s recovery is equivalent to 77.4 per cent of the economic volume of the same period in 2019. This places the SAR as the region with the highest economic growth in the world. Furthermore, although the year is not yet over, it is above the review conducted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in October, which predicted growth of 74.4 per cent in 2023.
However, it should be noted that Macau has seen one of the biggest economic downturns globally due to pandemic restrictions – it fell 54.2 per cent in 2020. It would rise 19.3 per cent in 2021, only to fall again in 2022 (26.8 per cent).

Gambling and tourism sustain growth

Taking into account the third quarter alone, Macau’s GDP more than doubled compared to the same period in 2022, an increase of 116.1 per cent justified by the authorities by the “strong performance of service exports”. The export of gaming and tourism services, as well as the increase in domestic demand, explain the economic recovery after the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the third quarter of 2023, 8.282 million visitors entered Macau, eight times more than in the same period last year. However, this is around 83.5 per cent of the number of visitors recorded in the same quarter of 2019.

Exports of services rose 284.1 per cent, with increases of 781.4 per cent in exports of gaming services and 255.4 per cent in exports of other tourist services, while imports of services rose 58.2 per cent.

No comparison

In the Asia-Pacific region, Macau’s economic growth is well above average. Just compare it to some of the major regional powers, such as mainland China (5 per cent), Hong Kong (4.4 per cent), the Philippines (5.3 per cent), Japan (2 per cent) or Singapore (1 per cent).

The same is true if we look at the 10 economies with the highest growth rates, according to the IMF. Behind Macau (74.4 per cent) are Guyana (38.4 per cent), Libya (12.5 per cent), the Maldives (8.1 per cent), Samoa (8 per cent), Fiji (7.5 per cent), Armenia (7 per cent), Mozambique (7 per cent), the Democratic Republic of Congo (6.7 per cent) and, lastly, Tajikistan (6.5 per cent).

For 2024, the scenario changes a little (see graph), but Macau remains at the top (27.2 per cent), followed again by Guyana (26.6 per cent), Palau (12.4 per cent), Niger (11.1 per cent), Senegal (8.8 per cent), Libya (7.5 per cent), Rwanda (7 per cent), Ivory Coast (6.6 per cent), Burkina Faso (6.4 per cent) and finally Benin and India (6.3 per cent).

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