Beyond the adverse impact on economic growth, the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is also expected to hit trade and investment hard. Having been weighed down by the China-US trade tension and the slowing economic growth in the previous year, the World Trade Organization (WTO) projected global trade to plummet between 13% and 32% across every regions and all sectors in 2020.2 The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had also forecasted that global foreign direct investment (FDI) to decrease by up to 40% in 2020, from their 2019 value of USD 1.5 trillion, and this would bring FDI below USD 1 trillion for the first time since 2005, with FDI flows to the developing Asia to decline between 30% to 45%.3 For ASEAN, this means a recovery from the1.8% contraction in total trade in 2019 is highly unlikely and FDI inflows in the region are expected also to face strong downward pressure.

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