AmCham Indonesia and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) hosted a webinar today, Nov 30, to release a new regional survey: “The Impact of COVID19 on Foreign Businesses across ASEAN.” The groundbreaking survey, the first of its kind, was done by AmCham and ERIA as a partnership; the project was led by Lydia Ruddy, head of communications for ERIA and an AmCham Board member. Respondents came from ASEAN and also the home countries of companies active in the region.
The panelists for the discussion were Sunit Dhoka, country head for Cargill Indonesia; Siobhan Das, CEO of the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Dionisius A. Narjoko, chief economist for ERIA. AmCham Indonesia Managing Director A Lin Neumann moderated the panel discussion.
Ruddy began by presenting the survey results, which revolved around business expectations on the impact of the pandemic, shifting industry trends, and when businesses predict the economy will stabilize.
Key findings showed almost all firms experienced negative impacts due to the pandemic, specifically on output, revenue, and sales in all countries they operate in. The measures taken in response to this included the introduction of remote working, pausing recruitment or hiring, and reducing the number of employees.
The panelists also noted the shift toward automation and digitalization as a notable impact of the pandemic, reflected in the growth in innovation and ICT. Even after the pandemic, most predicted trends that rely on internet connectivity and technology, such as less traveling and working from home, will remain important. The survey also showed that attitudes changed through the last year as many businesses realized that the damage from COVID-19 was not as bad as first thought and the impact may gradually decrease in the next two years.
Other key findings related to potential shifts in investment from China to ASEAN, with Vietnam leading the way as the choice of nearly 30 percent of respondents; Indonesia trailed the pack with only 7.69 percent of respondents considering a shift to the country.
The webinar ended with an engaging Q&A with participants curious about industry mechanization and supply chain shifts. The panelists all agreed that shifts and changes are inevitable during the pandemic and whether a country or company can recover and attract investors depends on making sure that people are safe and the movement of goods and talent is not restricted.