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APEC economies’ steady strides towards economic recovery

KUALA LUMPUR: It is not an overstatement that the members of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have fared well in managing the social and economic fallout from Covid-19.

The region’s response to the crisis, whether individually or collectively, has been pointed and result-oriented.

The adverse impact of Covid-19 has been reflected in weaker economic growth and large stimulus spending globally, since the pandemic was first detected in China at the end of 2019.

Malaysia and its counterparts in APEC have not been spared from the worst public health crisis in a century.

The pandemic has undermined domestic economic activities as well as export earnings from commodities, manufacturing and intermediate goods, and tourism receipts as well as slowed down the progress of foreign and domestic investment projects.

But fortunately the economies have responded proactively and responsively to balance their country’s economic sustainability and ensure the health and safety of the people.

‘Strong and robust’ measures

In the case of Malaysia, the Movement Control Order (MCO) was introduced on March 18 to confine the spread of coronavirus. The MCO meant that each and every Malaysian has to “stay at home” and “stay put wherever they are”. The MCO has since been relaxed via the conditional MCO on 4 May and on 10 June, it will be further relaxed through the Recovery MCO (RMCO).

Many businesses, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs), were not allowed to operate during the early MCO phase. Only critical economic sectors were allowed to operate since March 18, subject to conditions set by the Health Ministry. Although the MCO may have markedly reduced domestic economic activities, it has proven effective in flattening the Covid-19 curve.

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