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Asian Economy: Overview, Growth & Development

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Philippines allows malls, more businesses in capital to reopen

The Philippines has allowed malls and more businesses in the capital to partially reopen on May 16 after a two-month lockdown that shrank its economy.

Restaurants with delivery and take-out options, bookstores, hardware and clothing shops located inside malls in Metro Manila can reopen with half of its workforce starting Saturday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

Barber shops, salons and gyms would remain shut, and people are still required to stay at home. Trains and other forms of public transportation will remain unavailable.

Large-scale construction projects in the capital can resume, as well as manufacturing of drinks, tobacco, electronics and mineral and petroleum products, Roque said. Money exchanges and insurance companies are likewise allowed limited reopening.

“All in all, many sectors of our economy will be reopened,” Roque said at a televised briefing Wednesday. Malls must control the number of customers, and require them to wear masks, have their temperature checked and practice social distancing.

While its capital remains on lockdown until end-May, the Philippines is gradually easing restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The nation’s economy contracted 0.2 percent in the first quarter, and is projected to shrink by 2 percent to 3.4 percent this year amid the pandemic.

Myanmar’s major cities to ease some covid-19 business restrictions

Myanmar’s hardest-hit region for COVID-19, Yangon, will ease some restrictions in four townships as no new cases have been reported for 20 days, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said on Wednesday.

The townships – Mingaladon, Hlaing Tharyar, Shwepyitha and Botahtaung – are among the country’s 10 COVID-19 hotspots which are currently under semi-lockdown.

Streets will be unblocked and restaurants and tea shops allowed to reopen. Yangon eateries have been allowed to provide takeaways since March 27, after the country reported its first coronavirus case.

The State Counselor, who chairs the Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of Coronavirus Disease, discussed lifting the restrictions with Yangon’s mayor and deputy mayor, the Union health minister and lawmakers from the four townships on Wednesday.

Parliamentarian U Aung Hlaing Win, who joined the meeting, said the State Counselor wanted the four townships to be an example for others, as they had seen no new cases because health guidelines had been followed.

He said eating out was essential for low-income workers in their free time and for the survival of businesses. They would open in the coming few days, U Aung Hlaing Win said..

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi stressed that businesses must ensure distancing measures were followed or face fines and then possible closures, he added.

“We will examine businesses which open. And the public can complain if they see the breaching of guidelines,” U Aung Hlaing Win said.

But bars, pubs and nightclubs will not be allowed to reopen yet.

Private banks recently resumed their usual business hours.

The Yangon regional government has threatened legal action against residents who fail to wear masks in public and gatherings of more than four people.

The Mandalay regional government said it is going to ease restrictions on businesses after May 16.

Unlike Yangon, Mandalay ordered all businesses – including markets, hotels, factories, religious buildings and transport providers apart from cargo and trade – to close on April 9. Eateries have been restricted to serving take aways.

Thailand SEO agency Google expert digital marketing services launched

Digital Marketing Agency, Vault Mark Co. Ltd. has launched its Search Engine Optimization (SEO) service. Search Engine Optimization is a strategy used to help business owners scale their businesses to new heights.

The Bangkok-based company uses SEO along with its expert web design services to help businesses owners increase the online presence of their companies. The SEO service is said to have the capability to potentially rank one’s website organically on the 1st page of search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing for local search results.

Given that a large number of companies publish numerous amounts of content on a daily basis, it would be seemingly easy for one’s business to get lost in the shuffle. The biggest advantage of the Thailand SEO is that it allows business owners to generate traffic and visitors to their website without having to run paid Ad (PPC) campaigns.

It is well known that, based on Google statistics, the majority of the time a user will not move past the first page of search results. At times, users may not even look at results beyond the third position in search. Users are known to trust what search engine show when they search for a particular keyword. Hence, with SEO one’s business websites can become credible sources upon arriving at the top of the search results.

Why investors should be excited about Vietnam: provincial competitive index 2019

Business optimism in Vietnam continues to improve as per the latest Vietnam Provincial Competitive Index (PCI) 2019. With over 760,000 firms operating in Vietnam up from 105,000 in 2005, the survey is a testament to continued improvements being enacted by the local provincial governments and authorities.

The improved business optimism is attributed to an improvement in entry procedures, reduction in expropriation risk and efforts to deal with corruption.

Please note that the PCI 2019 was conducted before the COVID-19 outbreak and therefore some responses and future business plans are likely to be different as a result of the pandemic.

The PCI introduced in 2005, is a collaborative report by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). It looks at several criteria including informal costs, administrative procedures, and infrastructure related to the business environment of Vietnam. It looks at reforms made by provincial and city governments that promote the private sector.

In 2019, it surveyed more than 8,500 domestic firms in 63 provinces and over 1,500 Foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) in 20 provinces and cities. It also surveyed more than 2,000 newly established businesses.

Prefectures across Japan begin easing school and business shutdown requests

Local authorities in Japan have started relaxing their requests that businesses and schools shut down since the central government on Thursday lifted its coronavirus state of emergency in 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures.

Forty-one prefectures have fully or partially lifted their business shutdown requests, according to a Jiji Press survey as of Friday. Fourteen prefectures, meanwhile, plan to reopen prefecture-run schools earlier than they had scheduled amid the pandemic.

Most of the 39 prefectures where the state of emergency was lifted have eased their business closure requests. The requests were fully lifted in Yamagata on Thursday and in Niigata, Mie and Kagoshima prefectures Friday.

In Aichi Prefecture, some businesses, including movie theaters and commercial facilities, were allowed to reopen starting Friday.


In Yamanashi and Ehime, where business shutdown requests remain in place, some facilities were allowed to reopen with restrictions in place.

Among the eight prefectures where the state of emergency remains, Osaka began lifting its shutdown requests in stages on Saturday, based on its own criteria. Neighboring Kyoto and Hyogo have followed suit.

Some other prefectures, including Gunma and Shizuoka, introduced their own criteria for lifting the shutdown requests.

Most of the 39 prefectures where the state of emergency was lifted plan to reopen schools by May 25. In Kyoto, schools will reopen on May 25 in its northern part and on June 1 in the rest.

India-Bangladesh border trade tries to get back on track

The trade between India and Bangladesh through Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Petrapole, 80 km away from Kolkata the capital of West Bengal recommenced again since 30 April after nearly a month’s gap. Media reports reveal that on the Indian side, 231 trucks are stranded at the border point of Petrapole while another 572 are parked at a place near the check post managed by the local municipal authority. Around 1,300 have registered for loading-unloading operations but are now waiting at different non-registered/private parking lots nearby. It is noteworthy that trade via train movement continues along the Petrapole-Benapole route. Around 1,000 tonnes of onion have been exported from India through Gede-Darshana border point at Nadia. Initially India responded to the COVID-19 pandemic focusing on what World Health Organisation (WHO) categorises as “imported cases only” — where transmission is limited to international travellers alone.

More than 80pc Indian households lost income during lockdown, says study

About 84 percent of Indian households saw their incomes fall last month under the world’s strictest shelter-at-home rules, and many won’t survive much longer without assistance, a study shows.

The Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation analysed data from the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, collected through surveys covering about 5,800 homes across 27 Indian states in April. The researchers found that rural areas were hit the hardest and the spread of the coronavirus had little to do with the economic misery.

“Rather, income per capita before the lockdown, lockdown severity, and the effectiveness of the delivery of aid are likely contributors,” they wrote.

The findings are in line with previous data from the CMIE and others, which showed that more than 100 million Indians have lost their jobs since March 25, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi stopped the production and sale of all but the most essential goods and services to contain the spread of the virus.

His government on Thursday offered cheap loans and free food to farmers and workers in India’s vast informal sector to ease the pain.

Indonesia’s falling imports signals cooling economic activity

Indonesia’s imports have fallen for 10 consecutive months in April as manufacturing companies cut production output while consumer demand continues to shrink amid the COVID-19 pandemic, signaling cooling economic activity going forward.

The country recorded US$12.54 billion in imports in April, an 18.58 percent drop from the same period last year. Imports of consumer goods plunged 16.6 percent, while incoming shipments of raw materials and capital goods dropped 19.1 percent and 17.1 percent, respectively, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) announced on Friday.

“This will be bad for the national economy because this may risk greater deindustrialization as nobody can be sure whether the industry may be able to produce [normally] again,” Indonesian Commerce and Industry (Kadin) deputy chairwoman Shinta Kamdani told on Friday.

She added that manufacturing companies had cut production as domestic and global demand for non-primary products had fallen significantly.

“There is not much we can do unless we control the outbreak immediately and inject a greater financial stimulus for the economy,” she said.

The manufacturing industry accounted for almost 20 percent of Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP), the largest among other business sectors. Meanwhile, household consumption contributed to more than half of the economy.

At least 16,400 people in Indonesia have contracted COVID-19 as of Friday afternoon, with the death toll exceeded 1,000, according to official data. The outbreak has forced shops, factories, offices and schools to shut down as part of the government’s large scale social restriction (PSBB) policy in several regions, including manufacturing centers Jakarta and West Java.

China using trade sanctions as weapon to silence coronavirus criticism

Trying to silence criticism over the coronavirus pandemic, China is deploying a well-used weapon — trade sanctions. Beijing has blocked some imports of Australian beef after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government, endorsed by Washington, called for a robust inquiry into the origins of the outbreak and rebuffed Chinese demands to back off.

The move is the first time Beijing has used access to its huge markets as leverage in its campaign to deflect blame for the outbreak. But it has used the tactic regularly in political disputes over the past decade.

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