KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has revised upwards its gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for Southeast Asia slightly to five per cent this year from an earlier projection of 4.9 per cent, and maintains the growth forecast of 5.2 per cent for 2023.
In its Asian Development Outlook supplement for July 2022, it said the consumption growth in all sub-regional economies rebounded strongly in the first five months of 2022 on the gradual lifting of COVID-19 mobility restrictions and the reopening of markets and borders.
"Manufacturing and services output is increasing in most economies, creating jobs and lifting household incomes.
"Still, Southeast Asia’s economies face the challenges of higher oil prices, the end of low global interest rates, and continuing trade and supply disruptions,” ADB said.
These factors have dimmed the outlook for some economies in 2022 and 2023, it said.
Elaborating further, it said smaller economies, in particular, are being more heavily affected by supply disruptions and inflation from higher oil prices.
Tourist arrivals are picking up, albeit very slowly. Indeed, economies in the sub-region with high vaccination rates have yet to see meaningful tourism revivals.
Weaker global growth may dampen Malaysia’s prospects,
For Malaysia, the ADB said increased uncertainty and weaker global growth are dampening Malaysia’s prospects.
"Growth of five per cent in the first quarter of 2022 was underpinned by strong private consumption and increased government assistance through the Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia family assistance programme.
"But business confidence and the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) continue to soften in step with weaker global prospects and supply disruptions from cities in China that were locked down to tackle COVID-19 outbreaks.”
The agriculture growth remained marginal in the first quarter due to adverse weather conditions and input cost shocks from the war in Ukraine.
Nevertheless, it said the tourism sector is making a slow recovery, adding that arrivals this year are expected to be only a third of the pre-pandemic level, despite the country reopening its borders to international visitors in April.
ADB however revised downwards its growth forecast to 5.8 per cent for 2022 and 5.1 per cent for 2023.
Southeast Asia’s inflation in 2022 is forecast to rise significantly from 3.7 per cent to 4.7 per cent. Inflation next year is revised up, from 3.1 per cent to 3.4 per cent. The higher rates for both years are due to rising energy and food prices and supply chain disruptions.
In Malaysia, lower headline inflation due to price controls and subsidies on oil and basic food products prompts a downward revision in 2022’s inflation forecast, from 3.0 per cent to 2.7 per cent.