A business roundup
It is not all loss, cites The Davos Agenda, as there are yet some positive signs the Asean can make it in 2021 out of or despite the economic rut in 2020 that is caused by the lingering effects of the CoViD-19 pandemic.
Although prior to the pandemic Southeast Asia made huge advancements and was forecast to be the fourth biggest economy by year 2030, the economic devastation it faced in 2020 posed its greatest challenge yet since its organization.
The Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework
Founded to specify Southeast Asia’s CoViD-19 recovery strategy, including the improvement of its healthcare and medical infrastructure, this recovery framework is set to achieve greater trade integration and collaboration in the region.
The Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat at the the beginning of the year has emphasized the significance of economic solidarity and integration, where the Asean member states (ASM) also reaffirmed their commitment to fight the pandemic together.
Available to its members, the Asean CoViD-19 Response Fund can be used to acquire vaccines and medical supplies, Vietnam Deputy and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh offered.
Vaccination drive to curb virus spread
In their respective undertakings, Asean governments have been rolling out coronavirus vaccination programs in hopes of curbing the spread of CoViD-19. Ensuring that each state’s citizens are CoViD-19-free would set businesses back to motion, to get back motion as soon as possible, or where most have left off prior preventative measures as lockdowns and quarantines.
Governments will continue to be instrumental in mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic by providing financial aid to individuals and firms. The Thai Government will be issuing a new US$7 billion stimulus package to help individuals and businesses.
Meanwhile, the Philippines, after completing its second stimulus via its labor department, is looking forward to a third “Bayanihan” program its Congress has already started structuring to help displaced workers. There are other Congressional agenda targeted at helping individuals, businesses, and firms on the table that are expected to speed up economic recovery.
Trade via electronic exchange
All Asean nations are already equipped and involved in the Asean Single Window (ASW) Live Operation. It is a system that expedites cargo clearance and promotes ASEAN economic integration by enabling the electronic exchange of border trade-related documents among ASEAN member states.
Asean Customs Transport System
Six countries–Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam–have embarked on the establishment of a fully harmonized Customs Transport System that will introduce the free flow of goods, services, investment and skilled labour, and freer flow of capital in the region.
Growth and expansion of the digital economy
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat oof Singapore believes that Asean’s rising middle class and growing digitalized economy will set the foundation for Southeast Asia economies to recover quickly from the pandemic.
The Philippines, a country that embraces hard cash traditionally, has started adopting to digital payments system. Globe’s GCash mobile money facility has experienced 150 percent increase in application for the mobile cash facility since the pandemic. Other e-commerce activities, including logistics, have also experienced a boom. The convenience of digital payments will help promote online spending that will facilitate economic activity and growth in the process.
In the second half of 2020, millions of MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Indonesia went digital under the “Bangga Buatan Indonesia” initiative. Indonesia’s digital economy is predicted to generate US$150 billion by 2025.
Asean GDP to grow in 2021
The Asian Development Bank predicts that ASEAN’s GDP (gross domestic product) will increase by 5.2 percent in 2021. The resilience of Asian economies has reinforced long-term trends that will continue driving and China and Southeast Asia’s growth.
Economic growth in 2021 will be significantly dependent on China, Asean’s largest trading partner. In January 2021, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Asean secretary-general, seeking to boost China-Asean ties. During the pandemic, China has donated medical supplies and pledged to collaborate closely with Asean, economically.
The Chinese Government has promised US$1.34 billion in loans for infrastructure programs in the Philippines.
Brunei at the Asean helm
The year 2021 sets off as a challenge for Brunei’s chairmanship of the Asean. The fifth for Brunei at the helm, it is looking at clearer skies after the pandemic is under control. (SA/Headline PH)