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ASEAN 'crisis like no other' shifts focus from COVID to economy

Q2 contractions and rising fiscal pressure spur reopenings and trade initiatives

A clerk tends to a customer in Manila: The Philippines is among the Southeast Asian countries pushing to revive economic activity despite a persistent virus threat.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Southeast Asian countries are rushing to pick up the pieces after recording their worst economic performances in decades in the second quarter of 2020. While some continue to log alarming numbers of COVID-19 infections, they are now looking to balance virus containment with economic revivals and trade initiatives, as massive stimulus measures stretch government finances.

Southeast Asia was one of the world's fastest-growing regions before the pandemic, with the economy expanding about 5% every year. But strict lockdowns and border closures quickly choked private consumption, public investment and tourism receipts, resulting in deep contractions.

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