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Vietnam and Mekong peers pay economic price despite low virus tolls

Promising ASEAN quartet likely to fortify and diversify after pandemic cuts growth

A poster warns about the coronavirus on a street in Hanoi. Vietnam has recorded just over 300 cases with no deaths.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam have detected far fewer coronavirus cases than their more advanced Southeast Asian neighbors, but their economies are taking a beating all the same, potentially forcing a rethink of their development models down the road.

Analysts at Maybank Kim Eng expect the growth rate for the four Mekong countries collectively known as CLMV to be more than halved this year, to 3% from 6.9% in 2019. Some experts warn that these governments may require international assistance to weather the crisis, even though their virus infections number in the hundreds versus tens of thousands across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc's five largest economies -- Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

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