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Developing Asia’s Economy to Contract 0.7% in 2020 (ADB)

Economies across developing Asia will contract this year for the first time since 1960, according to a report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) today.

Boris Sullivan

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The Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020 Update forecasts -0.7% gross domestic product (GDP) growth for developing Asia this year—marking its first negative economic growth since the early 1960s. 

Growth will rally to 6.8% in 2021, in part because growth will be measured relative to a weak 2020. This will still leave next year’s output below pre-COVID-19 projections, suggesting an “L”-shaped rather than a “V”-shaped recovery. About three-quarters of the region’s economies are expected to post negative growth in 2020.

Key Messages

  • Developing Asia will contract by 0.7% this year, its first contraction in six decades. Growth will rebound to 6.8% in 2021.
  • The downturn is broad-based—three-fourths of the region’s economies are expected to contract this year. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is an important exception.
  • Depressed demand and low oil prices offset supply disruptions, keeping regional inflation at 2.9% in 2020, and trimming it to 2.3% in 2021.

Thailand to contract 8% this year

Thailand’s economy is expected to shrink by 8%, compared to 6.5% in the previous ADB assessment.

Strict quarantines and travel restrictions inflicted brutal second-quarter economic declines in the subregion, requiring steep downgrades to GDP growth forecasts for almost every economy.

The quarter featured double-digit contractions in Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, all of which are now expected to shrink by or more this year.

“Most economies in the Asia and Pacific region can expect a difficult growth path for the rest of 2020,” said ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada. “The economic threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic remains potent, as extended first waves or recurring outbreaks could prompt further containment measures. 

Consistent and coordinated steps to address the pandemic, with policy priorities focusing on protecting lives and livelihoods of people who are already most vulnerable, and ensuring the safe return to work and restart of business activities, will continue to be crucial to ensure the region’s eventual recovery is inclusive and sustainable.” 

A prolonged COVID-19 pandemic remains the biggest downside risk to the region’s growth outlook this year and next year. To mitigate the risk, governments in the region have delivered wide-ranging policy responses, including policy support packages—mainly income support—amounting to $3.6 trillion, equivalent to about 15% of regional GDP.

Other downside risks arise from geopolitical tensions, including an escalation of the trade and technology conflict between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), as well as financial vulnerabilities that could be exacerbated by a prolonged pandemic.

Economics

The Future of Asia: greener but with a public and private debt hangover

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a perfect storm, destroying jobs, worsening poverty and inequality, and creating a public and private debt problem—especially for countries and firms already in fragile financial health beforehand

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The Sydney Opera resumed live performances and the city of Melbourne recently hosted the Australian Open tennis tournament with fans (mostly) in attendance.

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50:50 campaign may not get immediate extension

National News Bureau of Thailand

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BANGKOK (NNT) – The government’s 50:50 co-pay campaign expiring on 31st March may not be getting an immediate campaign extension. The Minister of Finance says campaign evaluation is needed to improve future campaigns.

The Minister of Finance Arkhom Termpittayapaisith today announced the government may not be able to reach a conclusion on the extension of the 50:50 co-pay campaign in time for the current 31st March campaign end date, as evaluations are needed to better improve the campaign.

Originally introduced last year, the 50:50 campaign is a financial aid campaign for people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, in which the government subsidizes up to half the price of purchases at participating stores, with a daily cap on the subsidy amount of 150 baht, and a 3,500 baht per person subsidy limit over the entire campaign.

The campaign has already been extended once, with the current end date set for 31st March.

The Finance Minister said that payout campaigns for the general public are still valid in this period, allowing time for the 50:50 campaign to be assessed, and to address reports of fraud at some participating stores.

The Fiscal Police Office Director General and the Ministry of Finance Spokesperson Kulaya Tantitemit, said today that a bigger quota could be offered in Phase 3 of the 50:50 campaign beyond the 15 million people enrolled in the first two phases, while existing participants will need to confirm their identity if they want to participate in Phase 3, without the need to fill out the registration form.

Mrs Kulaya said the campaign will still be funded by emergency loan credit allocated for pandemic compensation, which still has about 200 billion baht available as of today.

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Economics

Customs Department Considers Measures to Help SMEs

National News Bureau of Thailand

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BANGKOK (NNT) – The Customs Department is seeking ways to reduce the impact of the exemption on import tax and value-added tax (VAT) for imported goods worth up to 1,500 baht, as such measures are hurting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

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