The OECD said the success of Britain’s vaccine programme and the fresh support for jobs and businesses provided by Rishi Sunak in the budget meant it was revising up its forecast for UK growth from 4.2% to 5.1% this year, and from 4.1% to 4.7% in 2022.
Other OECD members – especially in Europe – need to speed up their vaccine programmes or risk falling behind in what has become an increasingly two-speed global recovery, the thinktank said.
Laurence Boone, the OECD chief economist, said: “The world economy is doing a bit better. Firms have adjusted and some countries have accelerated vaccinations and so are reopening their economies.
“I don’t want to sound overoptimistic because a lot of the predictions are based on the assumption that vaccination will accelerate and that the race between vaccines and the virus will be won by the vaccines.”
Boone said the UK had been “doing well” on the vaccine front, adding that the eurozone – where programmes have lagged well behind that in the UK – needed to speed up. “It’s taking too long.” she said.
Of the eurozone’s four biggest economies, two – France and Italy – have seen their growth forecasts for 2021 trimmed slightly, while Germany and Spain have seen their fortunes improve since the OECD’s December economic outlook. Growth in the 19-nation eurozone as a whole is now expected to be 3.9% this year, up from 3.6%.
The OECD said activity in the two biggest Asian economies – China and India – had already exceeded pre-crisis levels, with the US joining them by the second quarter of this year.