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The Economic Toll of Covid-19 on Southeast Asia: Recession Looms as Growth Prospects Dim

Author: Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); Amy Searight

Publication Date: April 2020

Summary: Southeast Asian economies are taking a huge hit in the global economic crisis caused by the spreading pandemic. The economic impact will be huge, on par with the fallout of the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis, or perhaps much greater. On the one hand, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economies are better prepared than they were in the Asian Financial Crisis that hit the region more than two decades ago, with larger foreign exchange reserves and overall better macroeconomic positions compared to their situation in the late 1990s. However, the economic shock from COVID-19 may be deeper and longer lasting depending on how the pandemic plays out, and there is vast uncertainty surrounding the ongoing spread and ultimate containment of the virus.

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