Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam hold weaker economic outlook

By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic source

CITIZENS in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam showed a weaker economic recovery sentiment compared to other regional countries after the resurgence of Covid-19 in the past few months, according to a study by Ipsos Group SA.

The study found that there was a decline of 21% from September 2020 among respondents in Malaysia who said the current economic situation in the country was “good”.

Thailand and Vietnam saw a decline of 11% and 54% respectively. In contrast, respondents in other neighbouring countries expressed greater optimism on their country’s economic situation, led by Singapore with economic sentiment improvement of 44% from September 2020, the Philippines (26%), Indonesia (25%) and South-East Asia average stood at 30%.

For the next six-month outlook, Ipsos found that the sentiment declined by 24% from September 2020 in Malaysia.

Thailand and Vietnam also posed a weaker sentiment of 30% and 35% each, while Singapore has a positive sentiment with an improvement of 37%.

The study called the “Living through Pandemic: Covid-19 Impact on South-East Asia Economy and Consumer Spending” noted that most countries are optimistic about income recovery, except for Malaysia and Thailand where income stability sentiment has declined after the resurgence of Covid-19.

“Citizens in South-East Asia continue to endure the economic impact of Covid-19 on both personal income and their spending behaviours.

“Indonesia and Vietnam carry a general positive future outlook, while Singapore is recovering strongly. Recent resurgences and lockdowns have pushed back Malaysian and Thailand sentiments ‘back to red’” Ipsos Thailand director Viraj Juthani said in a statement yesterday.

The study also found that spending intent remains muted on large purchases and behaviour is shifting from “pandemic routine” to “small indulgences”.

Participants showed a decline in spending intent for home cooking and cleaning products when Covid- 19 restriction ends, for instance, and an improvement for clothing, travel and cultural activities.

Ipsos noted that an efficient rollout of vaccination can build economic optimism as in the case of Singapore.

It further said the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand needs more confidence-building measures.

“Decline in the infection rate and effective vaccination plans from governments play a key role in building back economic confidence and consumer spending, as seen in Singapore. Businesses operating in the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam need to capitalise on the positive country outlook.

“The recent surge in Covid-19 infections in Malaysia and Thailand, while being controlled, entails the need for a gradual easing of restrictions and elaborate campaigns to promote vaccinations,” Ipsos South-East Asia CEO Suresh Ramalingam (picture) said in the statement.