Sluggish recovery for CLMV countries in 2021; Vietnam leads the pack: report

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VIETNAM appears to be leading the economic comeback among the four emerging economies in Asean known collectively as CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam), says a Maybank Kim Eng report.
The report, which describes recovery in the region as sluggish and uneven, noted that Vietnam now leads the region, with exports and manufacturing already “far above” pre-pandemic levels.
It further noted that the country had successfully averted a recession last year. Exports rose 29.6 per cent in the first four months of 2021, with strong gains in machinery, computer and electronic items. For the whole of 2020, exports grew 6.9 per cent.
Movements to retail and recreation venues are also recovering to pre-Covid-19 levels, although a recent wave of cases is causing people mobility to dip back to around 20 per cent below the baseline, Maybank said.
Even so, Maybank is maintaining its 2021 full-year gross domestic growth (GDP) forecast at 6.5 per cent for Vietnam.
However, it is slashing its outlook for the other three countries. Cambodia is now expected to recover by a weaker 4.2 per cent, down from 5.9 percent; Laos is expected to grow 4.8 per cent instead of 6 per cent, and Myanmar could contract 8 per cent, down from 3 per cent.
While Cambodia and Laos are battling new and more severe waves of Covid-19 infections, Myanmar’s situation is complicated by its political unrest, which could push the country into a deep recession, Maybank said.
Myanmar is thus expected to be a laggard even as Vietnam, followed by Cambodia and Laos, gradually make gains in exports and manufacturing this year, as global demand strengthens.
The pace of economic recovery in all four countries hinges largely on vaccine rollout, but vaccine procurement has been a challenge, the bank said. So far, their governments have secured enough doses to cover only 30 to 60 per cent of their respective populations because of limited financial resources, supply constraints and logistical challenges.
Cambodia leads the pack in its vaccination progress, and Vietnam remains a laggard, said Maybank. About 12.6 per cent of Cambodia’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine; the figure is only 1 per cent for Vietnam.
While Laos and Myanmar have begun their vaccination campaigns, the rollout has been slow, with 6.5 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively having received at least one dose.
Maybank also noted that Vietnam is the only country in Asean that has not purchased or granted approval to any Chinese-made vaccines, including Sinovac and Sinopharm. Source: Business Times

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