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SE Asia Pandemic Recovery Faces Headwinds, Says ADB

ADB prescribed easing barriers to transport and trade, and boosting investments in education, training, health systems, social assistance, green infrastructure and technology

submerged village near Manila
Bamboo huts sit on top of concrete structures in the submerged coastal village of Sitio Pariahan, north of Manila. Photo: Reuters.


Southeast Asia is showing signs of recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it faces global headwinds including tighter interest rates, widespread unemployment, weak investment prospects, emerging coronavirus variants and higher inflation, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

To foster recovery, a new ADB report prescribed policy responses, including easing barriers to transport and trade, and boosting investments in education, training, health systems, social assistance, green infrastructure and technology.

“Clear and focused efforts in these areas will ensure a more modern workforce, a safer and healthier population, greater protection for the most vulnerable, and stronger and more competitive businesses that are green and inclusive,” ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa said.

The regional development bank hosted a symposium to highlight what needs to be done to sustain the region’s recovery from the pandemic.

“Infrastructure is and will continue to be an important driver of growth for Southeast Asia,” said Indranee Thurai Rajah, Singapore’s minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and second minister for finance and national development.


Adverse Weather Patterns

“With more adverse weather patterns that threaten low-lying coasts it’s critical for the region to build sustainable and resilient infrastructure. Failure to invest adequately in this area can result in dire economic, environmental, and social impact.”

Hooi Ling Tan, the co-founder of Grab, said there was a need to help micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises survive and thrive in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

“Grab saw firsthand how the digital transition was challenging for many small businesses,” she said. “And the truth is, it is not just about getting them registered on an app or a digital service and then expecting magic to happen on its own right after.”

US internet giant Google said it would launch a $6 million sustainability seed fund in Asia Pacific.

“Through this fund, we will support nonprofits in Asia not only with our philanthropic funding but also technology and Googlers’ time,” Google’s chief sustainability officer Kate Brandt said.

“And this is really all in an effort to address some of the most pressing sustainability challenges in this region.”

  • George Russell



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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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