Pandemic Side-Effects: Is ASEAN’s Slumping Economy Limping Back?

Pandemic Side-Effects: Is ASEAN’s Slumping Economy Limping Back?
Pandemic Side-Effects: Is ASEAN’s Slumping Economy Limping Back?
Dr. Jagdish Chandra Rout - 08 December 2021

Pandemic alias fatal Coronavirus (COVID-19) and now its more dreadful variant called Omicron, which has been spreading its tentacles globally, has not only taken a heavy toll on the precious human resources but has also devastated the economy of every country since its apocalyptic prowl on our lively planet since the advent of the dawn of 2020.

In the wake of the gradual unlocking of the worldwide lockdown phase-wise by the respective nations (as warranted individually), the economy (that had got ripped apart and ravished) has reportedly been observed to be on a recovering mode, but sluggishly.

In pursuance of their research and observations made, the world economists in their remarks have reportedly stated that the economic recovery chiefly of the Association of South-East Asian Nations [ASEAN] (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Singapore) has reportedly exhibited an optimistic note despite the bleak picture in reality, on the contrary, by the midst of the current year of 2021.

As per the reports, the global economic growth was projected at 5.5 per cent in January this year, while ASEAN’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth was projected at 5.2 per cent. On the other hand, the ASEAN’s GDP growth projection of last year (2020) was reportedly registered to be minus 3.7 per cent.

Moreover, the GDP growth of the ASEAN for the coming year of 2022 has also reportedly been projected to be 6 per cent. It is all due to the invention of various vaccines against the dreadful virus and the mass vaccination drive that is still underway globally. Besides, the unprecedented lockdown situation has improved with the gradual reinstatement of the so-called normal state of affairs.

Following the blanket ban imposed on international flights and sealing of the international borders to scuttle the COVID-19 vulnerable footfalls, the ASEAN tourism industry suffered a severe setback as everything resulted in a grinding halt.

Needless to mention about the other key growth generating sectors as both the workforce and the routine business transactions at the respective workplaces got hit hard due to the lockdown and stringent pandemic protocols.

While millions of the job-holders were rendered jobless and had to lose their livelihood, the lucky lot of work-from-home genre could somehow manage to sustain their hand-to-mouth sustenance.

Nevertheless, the overall economy, be it national or per capita income, got relegated to a literal state of doldrums.

With the so-called normalcy limping back at present, a fresh lease of life is being pumped into the tourism industry due to the holiday season since the festive occasions of Dusshera, Diwali, Kali Puja and the ongoing holiday season.

Notwithstanding that, the expected economic recovery is below expectations and sluggish.

The same is the fate of international trade. Last year due to the whole lockdown situation and ban on the international flights and freight movements, this is another key sector that has also been adversely affected.

Even though international trade resumed in the wake of the gradually unlocked scenario, the previous pace of trade affairs is yet to be restored with the recurring pandemic situation from time to time in various countries.

In addition, the usual supply chains of a slew of merchandise have also been immensely impacted as the international trade practice and domestic production has been disrupted.

Reports said that the grim condition had got bettered up somehow in October last year (2020), yet another pandemic wave that swept with a vengeance again further handicapped the picking-up economic condition during March, April and May this year. The hangover reportedly lingered till August.

Thus, the imports and exports of the manufactured products and raw materials since October last year could not be transacted. The money matters got hit hard yet again in the ASEAN regions, let alone the other south-Asian countries like India and neighbouring nations.

Pertinent to note that Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia are reportedly deemed the core manufacturing hub of southeast Asia.

Reports stated that southeast Asia’s growth forecast by September this year (2021) was predicted to be a dipping 3.1 per cent from that of 4.4 per cent while it has been downgraded from 5.1 per cent to 5 per cent for the ensuing year of 2022.

Experts have identified five key sectors for the revival of the economies of the southeast Asian nations. The five key sectors have reportedly been identified as tourism, electronics, digital trade, agro-processing and garments.

Even the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been laying stress on its proposal to focus and harness multi-lateral cooperation among the ASEAN. It is being implemented in true letter and spirit among the Southeast Asian nations as they have been meaningfully associated and maintain close coordination.

Hence, it is expected that such a sincere practice would result in a slow and steady economic recovery in the backdrop of the plundering pandemic.

“Slow and steady wins the race” - goes the age-old adage. It is being anxiously awaited and watched at the consistent and steady economic resurrection of the ASEAN and other Asian nations, including India.

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