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ICAEW: Vietnam recovery prospects brightest in Southeast Asia

September 11, 2020 | 07:00

The recovery prospects look brightest for Vietnam and the country is expected to be the only Southeast Asian economy to record positive growth this year.

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1622 hcmcA view of Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Vietnamnet

The recovery prospects look brightest for Vietnam and the country is expected to be the only Southeast Asian economy to record positive growth this year, according to the latest Global Economic Outlook report from Oxford Economics, commissioned by chartered accountancy body ICAEW.

The report said that overall, it expects Southeast Asia's GDP growth to contract by 4.2 percent in 2020. It added that the strength of the rebound in economic activity over the coming quarters in the region remains uncertain, particularly in the fourth quarter of 2020, after the expected initial strong bounce in global trade and domestic activity post-lockdowns has faded.

The road to recovery for economies in Southeast Asia will be a long one, with existing US-China tensions, a long-term slowdown in global trade activity, and a prolonged Covid-19 pandemic weighing on the region’s growth prospects,” said Mark Billington, ICAEW regional director, Greater China and South-East Asia.

While each region’s economy has suffered due to the crisis, the unique economic structures mean the crisis has played out in different ways. Ultimately, countries that can strike a balance between resuming economic activity and keeping the outbreak under control will see their economies bounce back faster than the rest."

1256 gdpSoutheast Asia's GDP growth is expected to to contract by 4.2 percent in 2020.

Specifically, economies which have convincingly contained the outbreak such as Thailand and Vietnam will see a stronger recovery than Indonesia and the Philippines, which are battling new waves of Covid-19 outbreak after restrictions were prematurely relaxed.

The report noted that both Indonesia and the Philippines remain highly vulnerable as they have weaker public health infrastructure, lower levels of fiscal support available, and are much more consumer driven than others in the region.

1831 vietnamIn late July, the World Bank forecast Vietnam's GDP growth could reach 2.8 percent in 2020 and will recover to 6.7 percent in the next year. Photo: VNA

The pace of recovery in Indonesia is expected to be slow and household income will be squeezed. GDP is expected to contract 2.7 percent in 2020 before a 6.2 percent expansion in 2021. The Philippines is set to record the largest contraction in Southeast Asia, with its GDP falling 8.2 percent in 2020, because of its dependence on international tourism and a slow exit from lockdown.

Malaysia’s exports meanwhile are predicted to benefit from improving Chinese import demand and the electronics cycle. Nonetheless, the speed of its recovery will likely slow given the current sluggish global demand, high unemployment and weak investment, and its economy is forecast to shrink by 6 percent this year, followed by growth of 6.6 percent in 2021./.

Vietnam’s trade balance posted positive US$2.77 billion in July, lifting total trade surplus to $8.23 billion in the first seven months of 2020, according to General Department of Vietnam Customs revealed.

This number was much higher than the General Statistics Office (GSO)’s estimate of $6.5 billion in late July and a record high for a seven-month value.

This was also Vietnam’s third month in a row recording a trade surplus despite the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

Total import-export turnover in July was $46.96 billion, up 8.5 per from June, of which export value increased 10.2 percent to $24.87 billion and imports rose 6.7 percent to $22.09 billion.

Ending July, Vietnam’s export value reached $147.6 billion, up 1.5 per cent year-on-year while import value was $129.2 billion, down 3 per cent year-on-year.

In late July, the World Bank forecast the country's GDP growth could reach 2.8 percent in 2020 and will recover to 6.7 percent in the next year. In the latest report, the bank forecast Vietnam to rank fifth in the global growth this year.

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