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Pandemic response – learn from Vietnam

Some of the countries in the region have best tackled the Covid-19 situation globally.

In ASEAN, Vietnam has had one of the best responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, earning global respect. The effective and early management of the public health crisis puts the country in a better position than most, on the road to economic recovery and to emerge as a leader in the region in the new world order. Economists from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Asian Development Bank predict that Vietnam has the best chance in the region to come out of the post-corona virus economic crisis relatively unscathed.

However, it is not just Vietnam, observers feel that some of the other ASEAN countries, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, too, have fared much better in their response to the pandemic compared to Asian hotspots such as India. The number of Covid-19 cases and deaths are significantly lower.

Overall, the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been mixed among the ASEAN countries with some flattening the curve and others seeing fresh bouts of rising cases. Weak external demand, continued social distancing and weak consumer sentiment will hold back the recovery in 2021 – expected to be modest rather than grand. According to a report in March 2021 by Rabobank, the recoveries will vary greatly given the situation as it stands on vaccinations and resource availability.
While, the implementation of various vaccines has started but most ASEAN countries have not yet secured enough doses to jab the whole population. Economic performance in 2020 differed greatly with economic growth of 4.2% in Vietnam and a contraction of -9.5% in the Philippine economy. Vietnam is seen to be the best performer in the region, showing positive growth figures in 2020 which we expect to continue in 2021. Singapore has found the way up again: Covid-19 cases are low and demand for tech and medical products is surging, which (combined with an effective vaccine roll-out) makes for a relatively positive outlook. Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are suffering from a high number of cases and are not expected to get out of the second dip before Q2. However, due to a low base in 2020 they are still able to grow significantly in 2021. An increase in tourism arrivals will spur growth from Q3 onwards if the global recovery persists and mobility increases due to implemented vaccine programs. Thailand seems to have overcome the second wave of infections recently but its economic recovery is slowing down. The lack of tourists, especially in the first half of the year, will drag economic recovery going forward, limiting Thailand’s economic growth in 2021.


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