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Asian Economy: Overview, Growth & Development

Thailand’s economic outlook for 2021

The Thai economy will grow next year after contracting by almost 10 percent this year. Next year, the Thai economy is expected to expand 3 to 4 percent from this year. It will not be until the end of 2022 before the Thai economy returns to its pre-Covid level of 2019. However, if there is another wave of Covid-19 in Thailand, or if effective vaccines are delayed, the recovery could be slower than anticipated.

The recovery is contingent upon a rebound in tourism and exports. Should large-scale vaccination become available by June 2021, large, advanced economies such as the US, EU, Japan and China, which will be first to receive the vaccines, could start to recover by the second half of next year. This would allow greater international tourism and exports for Thailand then.

The government expects inbound tourism to be at around 8 million by the second half of 2021, well below 40 million in 2019. The majority of tourists will be from China, while the remaining will be from Covid-free countries. Foreign tourism receipts will only return to their pre-Covid levels once the pandemic is over.

Vietnam’s economy to grow 6.8 pc in 2021: World Bank

Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by almost 3 percent in 2020 and about 6.8 percent in 2021, thanks to the country’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released by the World Bank on Monday.

The bi-annual economic report predicts that Vietnam will achieve positive growth this year while the global economy is expected to contract at least 4 percent.

The report attributes Vietnam’s economic performance to the resilience of both its domestic economy and the external sector.

Besides the containment of the pandemic by bold, early and innovative measures, the Vietnamese government has also used its fiscal and monetary policies to provide breathing space for the private sector and jump-start the recovery.

Besides, the external sector, the main driver of economic growth in Vietnam over the past decade, has performed exceptionally well since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, according to the bank.

Notably, the country is on the verge of reporting not only its highest merchandise trade surplus ever but also an increase in international reserves. The report suggests that foreign investors have continued investing or shifting production activities to Vietnam due to the country’s good management of the pandemic.

Myanmar’s economy hit hard by second wave of Covid-19

Myanmar’s economy continues to suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic, with growth estimated to have slowed sharply to 1.7 percent in FY19/20, down from 6.8 percent the previous year. The pandemic and associated containment measures have weakened consumption and investment, and disrupted businesses’ operations and the supply of labor and inputs, according to the World Bank’s Myanmar Economic Monitor, released .

As a result of COVID-19, the poverty rate could increase from 22.4 percent in FY2018/19 to 27 percent in FY20/21 and return to pre-crisis level in FY21/22 at the earliest. The first wave already forced many poor households to adopt risky and unsustainable mechanisms to buffer the shock, including reducing their daily food consumption. Even before the second wave hit in late-August, many households were struggling to repay their debts. The ongoing restrictions under the second wave put more households at risk of entering poverty.

Australia and India economic relations: the stars have aligned

On December 18, India launched its much-awaited Australia Economic Strategy (AES) report, authored by Anil Wadhwa, former secretary (East) of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). AES is the only strategy report ever produced by the Indian government for a specific country, and is a reciprocal report to Australia’s India Economic Strategy to 2035 (IES 2035) report, authored by Peter Varghese, the former head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and released in 2018. The IES2035 set a target for India to become one of Australia’s top three export markets, to make India the third-largest destination in Asia for Australian outward investment, $100 billion by 2035, and to establish a bigger, better trade basket with balanced trade relations between both countries.

The economy is at the very center of Indian diplomacy today. It emphasizes India’s major economic reforms across diverse sectors (including agriculture, mining, defense production, railways, space and atomic energy) and focuses on international outreach to attract foreign investment. With severe disruptions in industrial production and consumption, the Indian government’s economic focus has been on spurring demand and building infrastructure, which are key drivers to help India achieve its $5 trillion economy target by 2024.

China’s economy to grow nearly 8pc in 2021: World Bank

The World Bank on Wednesday forecast that China’s economy will grow 7.9 percent in 2021 despite a slowdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a report titled From Recovery to Rebalancing, the World Bank however said Beijing should avoid any “significant contraction” in fiscal policy next year to keep its post-pandemic economic recovery on track.

“The global environment remains highly uncertain and this calls for an adaptive policy framework. A premature policy exit and excessive tightening could derail the recovery,” said Martin Raiser, World Bank country director for China.

“The withdrawal of fiscal support should proceed gradually, but the focus should shift from traditional infrastructure to more social spending and green investment.”

The report predicted China’s GDP growth to slow to 2 percent in the current financial year, down from 6.1 percent but will pick up next fiscal year given that consumer spending and business investment confidence has strengthened besides improving corporate profits, labor market conditions and incomes.

India economy stabilizes in November as retail demand improves

India’s economic activity showed signs of stabilizing in November, even as concerns of fresh virus outbreaks and a new strain in the U.K. mount amid news of vaccines fueling hope.

All eight high-frequency indicators tracked by Bloomberg News were steady last month, keeping the needle on a dial measuring the so-called ‘Animal Spirits’ unchanged at 5. The level was arrived at by using the three-month weighted average to smooth out volatility in the single-month readings.

The pace of activity thus far was enough for the nation’s central bank to revise its forecast for the economy, which it now expects to exit a recession in the current quarter to December.

Activity in India’s dominant services sector expanded for a second straight month in November, although at a slower pace. The Markit India Services Purchasing Managers’ Index was at 53.7 last month versus 54.1 in October, with a reading above 50 indicating expansion. IHS Markit, which conducts the survey, said the level of positive sentiment had climbed to the highest since February amid predictions that conditions would normalize once a vaccine is rolled out.

Malaysian economy showing signs of recovery, projected to grow by 6.7 pc in 2021

Malaysia’s economy is expected to grow by 6.7 percent in 2021 following a projected contraction of 5.8 percent in 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest edition of the World Bank Malaysia Economic Monitor: Sowing the Seeds launched. The successful containment of the third wave and effective roll out and distribution of vaccine could lead to a faster-than-expected recovery in consumer demand, greater investor confidence, and consequently a more robust recovery in domestic economic activity in 2021

Signs of recovery are showing with Malaysia posting a smaller contraction of 2.7 percent in Q3 2020 compared to a 17.1 percent in Q2 2020. Fiscal measures like cash transfers and wage subsidies have boosted household spending with private consumption contracting 2.1 percent in Q3 2020 compared to 18.5 percent in Q2 2020. However, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and renewed movement controls could slow recovery down due to uncertainties surrounding the deployment of an effective vaccine and the robustness of a rebound in global growth that will influence growth prospects. Containing the pandemic and protecting the most vulnerable remain the topmost near-term priorities.

UK’s Octopus energy valued at $2bn after Japan supply deal

Octopus Energy will soon begin supplying electricity to homes in Japan under a new deal struck with Japanese utility company Tokyo Gas that values the UK technology startup at more than $2bn (

£1.5bn).

The agreement received the green light from the board of Tokyo Gas in the early hours of Wednesday morning and will bring the Octopus Energy brand to Japan as part of a new 30:70 joint venture.

Under the terms of the deal Tokyo Gas, the largest gas utility company in Japan, will also buy a 9.7 percent stake in Octopus Energy for $200m, which values the company at $2.1bn, to help fund its expansion into the Asian market.

Greg Jackson, the founder and chief executive of Octopus Energy, said the investment will “turbocharge our mission to revolutionise energy globally”.

The partnership effectively doubles the value of Octopus Energy months after it became a UK

“tech unicorn” after the sale of a 20 percent stake to Australian utility company Origin Energy for $200m.

Facebook launches campaign to showcase Bangladeshi entrepreneurs

Facebook on Monday launched the #BeDiscovered campaign in Bangladesh to showcase local entrepreneurs that are using digital platforms to grow their businesses.

As part of its global efforts to support small and medium businesses, Facebook will partner with Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to help tell their stories.

The #BeDiscovered campaign includes a series of live discussions on Facebook and Instagram where entrepreneurs will share their experiences and online growth strategies.

They will be joined by Facebook spokespersons who will share tips about digital tools and features that can help turn business ideas into reality. The campaign will provide audiences with a crash course on cost-effective business development on digital platforms.

To kick off the campaign, Ghulam Sumdany Don, corporate trainer and founder of Don Sumdany Facilitation, hosted a live virtual discussion on Facebook with two local entrepreneurs and representatives from Facebook and Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS).

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