Wednesday July 8, 2020 9:22 AM  About 5 days ago

Indonesia reported another record high in Covid-19 daily cases on 2 July, while disbursement of Covid-19 support funds to hospitals continues to face significant administrative delays. The Philippines extended the partial lockdown in Metro Manila and a stricter lockdown in Cebu to 15 July, while Singapore and Myanmar re-opened hotels and tourist attractions for locals. Thailand has partially re-opened its borders to international travelers, including for work permit holders and non-Covid-19 medical patients. Malaysia required all travelers to pay for their mandatory on-arrival Covid-19 test. Vietnam, Myanmar, and Singapore’s manufacturing sectors showed signs of recovery, with increases in their Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). Political parties in Singapore are gearing up for the upcoming election on 10 July. The reigning People’s Action Party (PAP), which has ruled Singapore since 1965, is expected to retain its parliamentary majority with ease. Indonesia secured 7 new investments from Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, and US companies that are relocating operations from Northeast Asia.

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Thursday July 2, 2020 11:07 AM  About 11 days ago

The Philippines now has the fastest rate of increase in Covid-19 cases in the Western Pacific region; President Rodrigo Duterte is set to announce a new set of community quarantine measures to contain the spread of the virus on 30 June. Indonesia raised its Covid-19 testing to 18,000 people a day in June, up from 10,000 in May. Malaysia and Vietnam have re-opened their borders partially to travelers from selected countries, while Myanmar continues to ban international travel. Cambodia rescinded a measure that required inbound foreign visitors to pay a USD3,000 deposit for Covid-19 related costs. Singapore has dissolved its Parliament and will hold its next general elections on 10 July. According to the Asian Development Bank’s latest 2020 growth forecasts, Vietnam and Myanmar are the only Southeast Asian economies expected to expand this year. ASEAN leaders agreed to establish an ASEAN fund for Covid-19 response at the 36th ASEAN Summit, which was held virtually on 26 June.

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Has COVID-19 Made the Philippines the ‘Sick Man of Asia’ Once More?

Thursday June 25, 2020 4:40 AM  About 18 days ago

The Philippines had one of the longest and strictest lockdowns of any country in Southeast Asia, imposing increasingly high costs on the economy. It’s predicted that 10 million jobs will be lost by year-end and that GDP will contract by up to 5%. Moreover, the government had to drastically ramp up external borrowings to fund its Covid-19 response. Is the Duterte administration at risk of causing sufficient structural damage to the Philippines economy to render it, once again, ‘the sick man of Asia’?

Read AGA Founder & CEO Adam Schwarz and Associate Ken Estiller analysis of the Philippines’ Covid-19 response on AsiaLink.

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Wednesday June 24, 2020 4:40 AM  About 19 days ago

Singapore moved into Phase 2 of its economic re-opening whereby almost the entire economy has re-opened as of 19 June. The Philippines extended the General Community Quarantine for areas such as Metro Manila, while Cebu City is placed under the Enhanced Community Quarantine due to rising infections. In Malaysia, business gatherings such as workshops and conferences can be organized with a maximum of 250 participants. Indonesia announced additional IDR18 trillion (USD1 billion) Covid-19 stimulus budget to aid struggling businesses, while Thailand’s Board of Investment has approved various investment incentives for five mega projects. Vietnam’s National Assembly agreed to reduce the corporate tax from 20% to 14% for companies with annual revenues of VND200 billion (USD8.6 million) or less and fewer than 200 employees. Myanmar extended the suspension of visa issuance and ban on international commercial flights for the fourth time to the end of June. Cambodia and China agreed to create a “fast track” for the movement of people via air travel and a “green corridor” for the flow of goods.

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Monday June 15, 2020 6:53 AM  About 28 days ago

Malaysia has further relaxed its Covid-19 restrictions and almost all economic activities have resumed since 10 June. The Philippines will decide whether to further ease movement restrictions nationwide on 16 June, and Singapore is expected to move into Phase 2 of its economic re-opening by the end of June, when almost the entire economy will resume operations. Vietnam is identifying “safe” countries and territories to be prioritized for the resumption of international flights, while Thailand will begin discussions with selected countries and territories to create “travel bubbles” through bilateral agreements. The World Bank slashed Indonesia’s 2020 growth forecast to 0% from 5%, weakest since the 1998 financial crisis. China donated its fourth batch of Covid-19 assistance to Myanmar consisting of medical equipment on 8 June, which marked the 70th anniversary of China-Myanmar diplomatic ties. Foreign visitors entering Cambodia will now have to pay a USD3,000 deposit upon arrival for the mandatory Covid-19 test, quarantine, and, if needed, medical treatment.

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Monday June 8, 2020 7:03 AM  About 1 month ago

Indonesia is set to relax Jakarta’s large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) next week, with many sectors allowed to reopen at 50% capacity. Vietnam is expected to re-open its borders earlier than other ASEAN countries, but no date is set for the resumption of international flights. Thailand’s parliament has approved three executive orders providing financial support to businesses and people hit by the pandemic, while Malaysia unveiled another round of economic stimulus, bringing its total Covid-19 economic stimulus package to RM295 billion (USD68.6 billion). The Philippines’ total debt rose by 1.54% in the month of April as the government increased borrowings to fund its Covid-19 response. Despite the pandemic, Singapore secured SGD13 billion (USD9.32 billion) of fixed asset investment commitments in the first four months of 2020, exceeding official full-year projection. While Myanmar has begun to relax restrictions, the country’s border will remain closed until 15 June.

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Monday June 1, 2020 5:37 AM  About 1 month ago

Indonesia is bracing for a “new normal” to relieve economic pressure, even as new daily Covid-19 cases remained high. The Philippines will ease lockdown Metro Manila on 1 June, while Thailand extended its state of emergency to 30 June as a precaution against a second wave of Covid-19 outbreak. Malaysia and Myanmar tightened border control measures to prevent more imported Covid-19 cases from illegal immigrants. Cambodia’s Covid-19 containment efforts won praise from the World Health Organization (WHO), yet concerns are looming about its rising unemployment rate. Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia made more moves to attract supply chain relocation investments. Singapore unveiled its fourth stimulus budget, bringing its Covid-19 economic stimulus package to USD65.5 billion or 19.2% of GDP – the largest in Southeast Asia.

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Wednesday May 27, 2020 9:48 AM  About 2 months ago

Cambodia lifted its entry ban against foreign travelers from six countries. Singapore unveiled a three-phase economic re-opening scenario from 2 June, including resumption of passenger transit through Changi Airport. While domestic tourism has resumed, Thailand and Vietnam remained cautious of international border re-opening to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 outbreak. The situation in Malaysia remained stable, with double digit daily cases throughout the week. Indonesia, meanwhile, reported yet another peak in daily Covid-19 cases, and there are concerns of increased community-transmitted infections during the Idul Fitri holiday on 24-25 May. Vietnam has secured another supply chain relocation investment, while Indonesia is preparing grounds for a potential one from the US. Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Cambodia secured new international assistance commitments to help finance their Covid-19 public health and economic support measures.

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Southeast Asia: Political Pawn or Proxy

Tuesday May 19, 2020 6:35 AM  About 2 months ago

As a locus of the strategic competition between the United States and China, Southeast Asia strives to maintain a delicate balance between the two great powers. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 complicates the dilemma of Southeast Asia. Politically, the United States is distancing itself from Southeast Asia at the time when China is widening its sphere of influence. What does this mean for Southeast Asia and how are the countries responding? Listen to the full podcast by Inside Asia Podcast where Asia Group Advisors CEO Adam Schwarz discusses how Southeast Asia is managing the coronavirus as well as the economic and geopolitical fallout from the pandemic.

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ASEAN Responses To Covid-19 [08 – 15 MAY]

Monday May 18, 2020 3:02 AM  About 2 months ago

This week saw further easing of restrictions across the region, except for Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. Vietnam reported 24 new imported cases, but the risk of community transmission remains low as patients have been under strict quarantine upon arrival. While migrant community cases remain high, Singapore is still on track for a gradual economic reopening by early June as general community cases are steadily declining. Indonesia, meanwhile, continues to see large daily case increases and the highest fatality count in the region. To bolster growth, Vietnam and Thailand are drumming up initiatives to promote domestic tourism, while the Philippines has resumed its national infrastructure development program. Despite earlier projections of a contraction, Malaysia’s economy grew by 0.7% in the first quarter of 2020. Vietnam and Cambodia have lifted rice export bans, relieving some pressure from the regional food supply chain.

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