Many developing nations in the East and Southeast Asia region have taken a major hit economically due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the latest economic outlook by the Asian Development Bank, all countries are supposed to bounce back in 2021, however. But the so-called V-shaped recovery is stronger for some than for others.
Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines dealt with some of the biggest losses to GDP in 2020, albeit for different reasons. While Malaysia and the Philippines experienced excess cases that impacted the economy due to repeated lockdowns, Thailand until recently kept infections very low. Yet, the country is heavily dependent on tourism and international travel restrictions therefore dealt a major blow to its GDP.
Vietnam and China as well as Taiwan were among those which due to low infection numbers skid through 2020 without negative GDP growth. According to the ADB, countries which carry high debts (Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam) are also subject to higher losses. Yet, Vietnam profited in 2020 from initially picking up slack left by decreasing Chinese export. The country’s manufacturing sector had been taking over certain market segments even before the crisis as the Chinese economy is transitioning to a higher value-added model.
On the whole, developing economies in Asia shrunk by 0.2 percent in 2020. The report expects a strong bounce-back in the region overall, with growth of 7.3 percent in 2021, compared with 5 percent in 2019.
This chart shows 2019/2020 GDP growth and 2021 expected GDP growth for selected developing countries in East and Southeast Asia.
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