CARI Captures 452: Model predicts COVID-19 in ASEAN will end by September 2020
Model predicts COVID-19 in ASEAN will end by September 2020
(26 April 2020) A study conducted by Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) projects that the COVID-19 pandemic will gradually end beginning in June 2020. The results released by SUTD’s Data-Driven Innovation Lab on 24 April were obtained by using the susceptible-infected-recovered (SIR) on 28 countries including Malaysia. The SIR model has previously been used to predict other diseases such as SARS and AIDS. Based on the model, the world will achieve 100% recovery from COVID-19 on 2 December 2020. For ASEAN countries included in the study, the pandemic is predicted to end 100% as follows: Vietnam (14 May 2020), Thailand (11 June 2020), Singapore (19 June 2020), the Philippines (8 July 2020), Malaysia (9 July 2020) and Indonesia (1 September 2020).
More than 20 million workers in ASEAN-6 could lose jobs due to pandemic
(27 April 2020) Analysts from BofA Global Research estimated that about 7% of total employees, or 20.7 million, in ASEAN-6 economies could be laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ASEAN-6 region comprises Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, with the highest number of workers expected to be laid off led by Indonesia at 9.4 million. The research firm warned that a crash in the labour market would threaten the expected economic recovery in the region once the pandemic subsides. Workers in services activities such as accommodation and food, wholesale and retail trade, and real estate and business services are likely to be hit hard. While some countries have allowed manufacturing activities to continue, the sector will feel the brunt of the drop in global demand. According to the research firm, given that risks are still skewed to the downside, more and better-targeted, help is needed.
US commits to aiding ASEAN’s COVID-19 response
(24 April 2020) The US has committed to continue providing generous support to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in order to assist them in their response to the COVID-19 outbreak. According to a statement issued by the US Department of State’s office, the commitment was made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the launch of the US-ASEAN Health Futures initiative during a US-ASEAN Special Ministers’ Meeting held on 23 April 2020 via video conference. The special meeting was co-chaired by Laos, as country Coordinator for ASEAN-US Dialogue Relations. Pompeo said to date, the US has released more than US$35.3 million in emergency health funding to help ASEAN countries fight the virus, building on the US$3.5 billion in public health assistance provided across ASEAN over the last 20 years.
Ramadan bazaars go digital in Southeast Asia
(28 April 2020) With the COVID-19 pandemic having led to the cancellation of Ramadan bazaars in many Muslim-majority countries in the region, thousands of street hawkers and vendors in Malaysia have had to make the switch to digital platforms, mirroring a shift seen in neighbouring Indonesia, where roadside businesses enjoy a sizeable online presence. Due to the partial lockdown, some 100,000 Malaysian hawkers are estimated to have suffered a loss of US$11.5 million (RM50 million). Several companies have developed e-bazaar platforms to help Ramadan traders partner with delivery companies and reach more customers online. Many small food businesses, however, prefer marketing directly to customers via social media as they do not earn enough profit to share with delivery firms. Dozens of Ramadan bazaar groups have popped up on Facebook, where sellers can offer cash-on-delivery services to customers closest to them. Virtual bazaars have also been set up in Singapore, which cancelled Ramadan markets in March.
Cryptocurrency trading operators record upsurge in trading during lockdown
(30 April 2020) Two government-approved cryptocurrency trading operators in Malaysia have reported an upsurge in trading volumes and new users. Malaysia’s first fully approved digital asset exchange, Luno, stated that local trading volumes on its platform grew by 33% over the last four weeks and that the number of active users on the platform also reached a record high. The other cryptocurrency exchange operator, Tokenize Technology, also stated that they saw the average daily trading volume increase by 30% to 40%. It is believed that users are using cryptocurrency as a store of value during economically difficult times.
Vehicle sales plunge 58.96% year-on-year in first quarter of 2020
(29 April 2020) Vehicle sales in Malaysia plunged by 58.96% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020, to 22,478 units from 54,776 in the first quarter of 2019. According to the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA), this is largely due to the Movement Control Order implemented by the Malaysian government, which has seen car showrooms closed. Passenger vehicle sales fell by 60% year-on-year while commercial vehicle sales dropped by 52%. Year to date, cumulative sales were down 25.59% to 106,428 units from 143,036 units in 2019. Sales volume in March 2020 was 44% lower than in February 2020.
The Philippines may relax restrictions in Luzon after 15 May
(28 April 2020) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he may soon ease restrictions to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, a move that his spokesperson said will be considered after the lockdown ends in mid-May. The Philippine leader said the lockdown will only be gradually eased as completely lifting it raises the risks of more infections. The government plans to allow construction and other sectors to slowly restart, making sure that social distancing remains in effect including in the capital’s congested railways. The Philippine economy may shrink 0.2% in 2020 before bouncing back to a 7.7% growth in 2021 as support measures “gain traction,” central bank Governor Benjamin Diokno said over the weekend.
Philippine government raises US$2.35 billion in bond sale as it fights COVID-19
(28 April 2020) The Philippines government has raised US$2.35 billion from a bond sale as it seeks to shore up its economy from the COVID-19 pandemic. The bonds were issued in two parts, with the 10-year notes priced to yield above 180 basis points over Treasuries, up 110 basis points when it issued a similar note in January 2019. The Philippines government expects its budget deficit for 2020 to widen to 5.3% of GDP from 3.6% in 2019. This would be the highest budget deficit since at least the year 2000.
More than 130 garment, footwear and travel goods factories suspend operations
(28 April 2020) As of 27 April 2020, more than 130 garment, footwear and travel goods factories in Cambodia have suspended operations due to a sharp decline in purchase orders. Most of these products are exported to Europe and the US, both of which have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a sharp decline in demand. Nearly 100,000 workers have been affected, with the garment, footwear and travel goods industry being Cambodia’s largest export sector employing approximately 750,000 people. Labour Ministry secretary of state and spokesman Heng Sour said although factories in the kingdom have not received purchase orders from potential buyers for April, May and June, there are some factories that are still in operation and keeping their final products in warehouses in the hopes that demand will bounce back. He expects the country’s exports in the second quarter of 2020 to drop by 50% to 60% over the same period in 2019.
New factories opened in the first quarter of 2020 despite COVID-19 pandemic
(23 April 2020) A total of 77 new factories, including 34 garment, footwear, and travel goods factories, opened in Cambodia in the first quarter of 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology, and Innovation, the new factories created jobs for 27,909 people. Although many factories have seen a drop in purchasing orders, it is believed demand will resume once the pandemic passes. Most of the garment, footwear and travel goods factories continued to operate due to constant supply of raw materials from China, with only six factories having permanently shut down during the quarter affecting some 6,052 workers. Cambodia’s exports of garment, footwear, and travel goods in 2019 was valued at US$9.32 billion, accounting for over 83% of the country’s total industrial product exports.