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GovAsia – Barely Staying Afloat: The Impact of Covid-19 on MSMEs in Southeast Asia


By Nicola Nixon, Sunil Pillai, Marly Augustine, Tamara Failor, Miranda Lucas, Pechet Men, Ville Peltovuori, Gobie Rajalingam, Nalitra Thaiprasert, Peter Yates

GovAsia provides a platform for The Asia Foundation and its partners to examine critical social, economic, and political issues faced by citizens and governments across Asia, drawing on the Foundation’s daily engagement with the region’s development challenges. GovAsia aims to facilitate thoughtful debate and build consensus for solutions to the most pressing governance issues facing the region today. In this issue, we explore the impact of early Covid-19 lockdowns on micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Southeast Asia. Between March and May 2020, despite the limited spread of Covid-19, all Southeast Asian countries imposed a series of pre-emptive lockdowns.

Starting in April, Asia Foundation teams collected data in six countries on the impact those lockdowns have had in multiple sectors, including tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, and services. Businesses have struggled to respond and adapt to the economic crisis caused by the situation. There are, however, many opportunities for governments and the private sector to support MSMEs. These opportunities become even more urgent as the majority of the region enters a second or third wave of the pandemic in mid-2021, with a recovery period still a long way off.

Posted August 13, 2021
Related programs: Good Governance
Related topics: Covid-19 Impact on Southeast Asia MSMEs, GovAsia