Several APAC countries are seeing a light at the end of the covid-tunnel as GDP and export is on the rise (1).
Vietnam’s YoY growth was higher than the previous quarter, fueled by the heightened demand for personal computers –thanks to the shift toward distance-working– and an increase in steel exports to China. The government has shrewdly increased spending, simultaneously creating jobs while improving infrastructure, resulting in public investment being the highest in five years. Foreign direct investment is down from previous years and tourism is at near zero, while a second wave of infections prompted the government to half their economic growth target. Nevertheless, the surge in exports, central bank rate cuts and success in containing the virus all play into the Vietnam’s overall outperformance (2).
Singapore has seen exports pick up the pace, raising hopes of beating government estimates, with the largest contributors being China, the EU and the US. Despite COVID-19’s disruption to people flows, manufacturing and trade flows have been less hard-hit. Exports of non-monetary gold have gained momentum as physical-gold hoarding has been on the rise following the economic downturn (3). Container throughput at Jurong Port is well on track to hit its target. Local economists predict the construction sector will likely lead the economic recovery, provided workers can get back to work (4). Manufacturing has also seen a strong rebound, particularly in semiconductor and biomedical production, beating economists’ expectations. The intensifying US-China trade war poses risks of disrupted global supply chains while transport, marine, and offshore engineering output have plunged lower over the last month (5).
Indonesia’s government has set a record-high budget for next year in an effort to re-boost economic growth. The country is grappling with the virus outbreak which has caused policymakers to slash this year’s forecast. The economy is now expected to show some contraction this year, and the central back remains poised to buy government debt, albeit with the assertion it is a one-off, pandemic-driven move (6).
Taiwan’s economy is projected to grow, winning second-place in economists’ projection of major economies, due in part to the volatility in relations with China and the consequent re-homing of local companies, as well as increased export demand from the US -becoming its ninth-largest trading partner. Taiwan’s government has taken steps to curb currency strength, preempting an increased interest which would reduce the attractiveness of overseas exports. Such a move risks possible sanctions, and while pressure for currency gain is mounting, Taiwan is betting on its “buffer” status between China and the US to get away with it (7).