Brunei third lowest economic risk in Asean

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam was ranked by Moody’s Analytics to be the third lowest economic risk in ASEAN due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and placed 13th among 20 Asia-Pacific countries.

Moody’s Analytics on Monday was revealed with its Relative COVID-19 Economic Risk Index, which positioned countries in the region using a weight of 50 per cent on the vaccination rate, and 25 per cent each on new COVID-19 cases and deaths per one million population over the latest seven-day period.

All three factors were taken into consideration to determine the relative economic risk, as countries with any combination of low vaccination rates, high incidence of new cases, and high death rates would be at high risk of longer and stricter movement controls that would slow or constrict the pace of economic growth,” said Moody’s Analytics.

Ranked number one or with the lowest risk was Singapore, followed by China, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Japan.

Among ASEAN member countries, Laos was in 9th place while Brunei was at 13th place.

Moody’s Analytics added, “The index provides an indication of where further risk may lie from the economic consequences of COVID-19. Those that rank low could still face longer lockdowns or stricter social distancing measures if conditions do not improve.

“And if this is the case, those governments may have to respond with further fiscal support to manage the economic hit to households, small businesses, and industries hit particularly hard by COVID-19.”

In early August, the Brunei Economic Update published by the Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS) said that Brunei Darussalam’s economic growth outlook remains robust, but uncertainty looms.

Despite a contraction in first quarter (Q1), the Brunei economy is still projected to grow modestly in 2021, reflecting broad-based growth across sectors as external demand and domestic activity strengthen.

In May, the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2021 said Brunei Darussalam’s economy is expected to strengthen in 2021 and 2022 on an improving external environment with a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 2.5 per cent this year and three per cent next year.

Growth in 2021 will be supported by a recovery in global demand and higher oil and gas prices, which will boost government revenue and support government consumption. Private consumption is expected to grow as the economy continues to strengthen.

An aerial view of Bandar Seri Begawan. PHOTO: AFP