As of October 2020, when the editing of this research paper was closed, the ASEAN countries had fared considerably better in containing the spread of COVID-19 than the mature markets in Europe or the Americas.
Emerging Asia is projected to be the only region with a positive GDP growth rate in 2020, albeit more than 5 percentage points below its average of the previous decade.
Countries like Indonesia (0.5 %) or Vietnam (1.6 %) are expected to still register positive growth rates, while Malaysia (-6.0 %) or Thailand (-6.7 %) may experience negative growth.
To stimulate the economy and buffer the most severe impact of lockdown and movement control measures, ASEAN countries launched a wealth of fiscal measures adding up to a package of more than US$ 427 billion or about 13.5 per cent of GDP.
Countries such as Singapore invested as much as 26 per cent and Myanmar about 0.1 per cent.
INSURANCE INDUSTRY IMPACT
The crisis severely affects the ASEAN insurance industry.
While stock markets sharply descended in March/April and bond yields further declined, the most onerous effect came from the impact of the pandemic on insurers’ top line.
The global life insurance market is projected to contract by 1.5 per cent in 2020 and 2021, as compared to a 2.2 per cent growth in 2019.
In non-life, insurance premium volume is expected to continue to grow by 1.6 per cent for the years 2020 and 2021, following a 3.5 per cent growth in 2019.
VOICES FROM THE FRONT
The findings of this report are based on structured interviews with executives representing 30 regional and international (re)insurance companies, intermediaries, policymakers and trade associations.
The interviews were conducted by Faber Consulting, a Zurich-based research, communication and business development consultancy, from September to October 2020.