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ASEAN inaugurates new Secretariat building to celebrate 52nd anniversary




JAKARTA, 8 August 2019 – ASEAN inaugurated the new ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC) building as it celebrated its 52nd anniversary today in Jakarta with a series of commemorative events involving the community, marking a new chapter in the organisation’s history.

President Joko Widodo officiated the new building in the presence of Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Foreign Ministers and representatives from ASEAN Member States together with about 600 other guests.

Former Secretaries-General of ASEAN Tan Sri Dato Ajit Singh and Ambassador Le Luong Minh were also present.

In his keynote speech, President Widodo shared his personal attachment to the construction of the new ASEAN Secretariat building since he was the Governor of Jakarta and thus he has monitored the construction progress closely.

He wished that in the future most activities would be carried out in the new building to minimise travel of staff and use resources for other activities.

After signing the stone marker, President Widodo symbolically handed over the key of the new ASEAN Secretariat Building to Secretary-General Dato Lim.

Thanking the government of Indonesia for the new ASEC building, Secretary-General Dato Lim said,

“As we look forward to the next 50 years of ASEAN integration, this building will provide a sound foundation to deepen our community building efforts, by creating more opportunities for physical meetings and face-to-face interactions that will further deepen our political, economic and social ties. This means strengthening our engagements with various stakeholders not only here in Jakarta but outside the region as well.”

The inauguration of new ASEC building was followed by the celebration of the 52nd anniversary of ASEAN featuring remarks from Dato Lim and performances from C-ASEAN Consonant – an ensemble of a musicians from all ASEAN Member States playing their national musical instruments, and the London School Beyond Academy (LSBA) whose band members are children with special needs.

Following the performances was the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between ASEAN Foundation and Maybank Foundation to signify a 3-year partnership commitment of US$3million for the “eMpowering Youth Across ASEAN” programme.

The Foreign Ministers of ASEAN also placed the wishes and aspirations of ASEAN Leaders for the next 25 years in a time capsule. Other highlights of the celebration include the official launch of the Shifting Tides exhibition and the presentation of artwork from ASEAN’s first resident artist Pannaphan Yodmamee of Thailand. Some ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partner countries also took the opportunity to present gifts of artworks to the new ASEAN Gallery.

In addition, the people-centred celebration featured Erlinda Koe, the inaugural recipient of the 2018 ASEAN Prize, through a symposium under the theme “What can ASEAN do more to support to persons with disabilities?”

Later in the day, ASEAN and the European Union (EU) launched the EU-ASEAN Blue Book 2019, a publication which provides an overview of development cooperation between the two regional institutions.

Both sides marked the opening of the ASEAN-EU Cooperation and Scholarships Day which showcased ASEAN-EU cooperation programmes and scholarship opportunities from ASEAN and the EU Member States.

As reflected in Secretary-General Lim’s remarks, the celebration aimed to highlight the “inclusiveness and youthfulness of ASEAN.”

ASEAN entities, private sector and social enterprises that joined forces to celebrate and showcase ASEAN as “A Community of Opportunities for All” through their exhibitions were ASEAN Foundation, ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, Bank Mandiri, Bank Central Asia, Bank DKI, Jakarta Metro Mass Rapid Transit, Pos Indonesia, London School of Public Relations, Maybank Foundation, Indonesia’s Women’s Football Team as well as Indonesian Scouts Association.

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Assessing the economic impacts of COVID-19 on ASEAN countries

All ASEAN countries are dependent on tourism flows but Thailand is probably the most dependent.

East Asia Forum



Author: Jayant Menon, ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a human tragedy. Measures introduced to deal with the pandemic could save lives but are having wide-ranging economic effects and inducing economic contagion.

There are already studies estimating the economic impact of the virus. But greater focus is needed on the transmission mechanisms of the economic contagion and in critiquing how assessments of the economic impacts are made, concentrating on the ASEAN region.

The effects of COVID-19 are hitting ASEAN economies at a time when other risk factors, such as a global growth slowdown, were already rising.

COVID-19 is disrupting tourism and travel, supply chains and labour supply

Uncertainty is driving negative sentiment. This all affects trade, investment and output, which in turn affects growth. Tourism and business travel, as well as related industries, especially airlines and hotels, were the first to be affected. And the conditions are worsening as more countries go into shutdown.

The supply disruptions emanating mostly from China will reverberate throughout the value chain and disrupt production. Since China is the regional hub and accounts for 12 per cent of global trade in parts and components, the cost of the disruption in the short run will be high.

The negative effects of quarantine arrangements on labour supply could also be high depending on duration and sector. Manufacturing has been hit harder than service industries, where telecommuting and other technological aids limit the fall in productivity.

All these disruptions will lead to sharp declines in domestic demand. And their impact on economic growth will further propagate these disruptions. This compounding effect can magnify and extend short-run effects into the long run.

The highest economic cost could come from the intangibles

The effects of negative sentiment about growth and general uncertainty — which is already affecting financial markets — will feed into reduced investment, consumption and growth in the long run.

Rolling recessions around the world now appear inevitable, despite the stimulus measures being contemplated. If so, there will be sharp increases in unemployment and poverty. Some degree of decoupling from China, or de-globalisation in general, may also be a permanent reminder of this pandemic.

Among ASEAN countries, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are heavily integrated in regional supply chains and will be the most affected by a reduction in demand for the goods produced within them. Indonesia and the Philippines have been increasing supply chain engagement and will also not be immune.

Vietnam is the only new ASEAN member integrated into supply chains with China and is already suffering severe supply disruptions.

Given time, supply-side adjustments will alter trade and investment patterns. The main adjustment will involve relocating certain activities along the supply chain from China to ASEAN countries. Although the pandemic will disrupt the relocation phase, ASEAN countries can benefit from the new investments, mitigating overall negative impacts.

Thailand is probably the most tourism dependent Asean country

All ASEAN countries are dependent on tourism flows but Thailand is probably the most dependent. Cambodia and Laos receive most of their investment and aid from China, and a marked growth slowdown in China will affect them the most.

The Philippines and Mekong countries have large overseas foreign worker populations and restrictions on their movement or employment prospects as COVID-19 spreads will affect sending and receiving countries. Brunei and Malaysia are net oil exporters and the price war indirectly induced by the pandemic will hit them hard. Others will benefit from lower oil prices, as will the struggling transport sector.

In measuring the impacts of COVID-19, it is important to separate its marginal impact from observed outcomes. This is important because the remedy may vary depending on the cause of the disruption. This requires an analytical framework that can measure deviations from a baseline scenario that incorporates pre-existing trends. A model-based analysis, rather than casual empiricism, is required to reduce the problem.

Even before the outbreak, risks of a global growth slowdown were rising

The restructuring of regional supply chains had started, driven initially by rising wages in China and accelerated by the US–China trade war. While COVID-19 may further hasten the pace and extent of the restructuring, it is only partly responsible for what may happen. It would be misleading to attribute all of the current disruption to COVID-19. Had the trade war not preceded it, COVID-19 may have resulted in greater disruption to supply chains.

Any assessment of impacts must recognise that the spread of COVID-19 is unpredictable, and so too the response by governments. It is difficult to estimate the impacts of a shock that is uncertain in itself. This reiterates the need for rigorous modelling and scenario analyses. The current trend points to risks rising, often accelerating, as with previous epidemics. This uncertainty underscores the need for caution in assessing, and regular recalibration in producing assessments.

Jayant Menon is a Visiting Senior Fellow in the Regional Economic Studies Programme at the ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore.

A version of this article first appeared in ISEAS Commentary.

This article is part of an EAF special feature series on the novel coronavirus crisis and its impact.

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Coronavirus’ economic impact in East and Southeast Asia

The ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) estimates that the COVID-19 epidemic could deduct as much as half a percentage point from the economic growth of some regional economies in 2020.

East Asia Forum



As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise around the world, there are deep concerns over the potential economic impact of the virus.


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Trade War Incentive Schemes flourishing in ASEAN

Countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia have unveiled an array of incentive packages to entice businesses affected by the US-China trade war.




Governments across ASEAN have been unveiling an array of incentive packages to entice businesses affected by the US-China trade war.


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