Rio de Jenario, Brazil: Brazil’s economy, the largest in Latin America, returned to its pre-pandemic level with stronger-than-expected growth of 1.2 percent in the first quarter, the government said Tuesday.
Experts cited by the economic daily Valor had predicted growth of 0.7 percent for the first three months of the year, after Brazil posted a record 4.1 percent contraction of annual GDP in 2020, hit hard by Covid-19.
“Even with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, GDP grew in the first quarter since, unlike last year, there were fewer restrictions on economic activity in the country,” said Rebeca Palis of the national statistics institute, IBGE.
The pace of the economy’s pandemic recovery has slowed, however: after contracting 9.2 percent in the second quarter of 2020, it had grown by 7.8 percent in the third and 3.2 percent in the fourth.
And Brazil still faces big risks.
While the better-than-expected first-quarter growth was largely driven by state and local authorities lifting business closures and other Covid-19 restrictions, epidemiologists say the move came too soon.
They warn Brazil — already the country with the second-highest death toll in the pandemic, with more than 460,000 lives lost — now faces a third coronavirus wave.