Indonesia' House of Representatives ratifies the Seventh Package of Commitments on Financial Services under the Association of Southeast Asian Nation Framework Agreement on Services today - Photo by ASEAN Secretariat

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Policy measures taken by the ASEAN-5 economies – Indonesia (Baa2 stable), Malaysia (A3 stable), the Philippines (Baa2 stable), Vietnam (Ba3 negative), and Thailand (Baa1 stable) – will reduce some of the negative effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, but will not offset the rising recessionary or credit risks for most sectors.

The various policy measures will mitigate credit-negative pressure on companies, banks and the broader economy, but weakness in trade, commodity prices and general sentiment will weigh on growth for all five economies.

The five economies are highly integrated in regional manufacturing supply chains and are experiencing sharp declines in external trade flows, while ongoing travel restrictions are weighing on tourism-related revenue and export earnings. At the same time, sluggish commodity prices are pressuring fiscal revenues for commodity exporters.

Financial market volatility triggered capital outflows in March and April, although lower dependence on foreign-currency denominated debt for most governments will to some extent shield them from currency depreciation risk

The fiscal costs of the support measures will be significant, with debt burdens only stabilizing from 2021 for most economies, although the ASEAN-5 countries had adequate buffers prior to the pandemic that provide them with the fiscal space to respond to the crisis.

Policy measures for the financial sector have mostly focused on providing liquidity to banks to support new lending and through credit restructuring such as debt moratoriums. As moratoriums are lifted, banks’ problem loans will likely increase.

Few corporate sectors will benefit directly from government support, with strategically important state-owned enterprises likely to take priority in receiving direct financial support. Still, privately owned companies will receive some support from broader policy measures such as temporary tax relief and lower interest rates.

The infrastructure sector will also get limited support, as with the exception of Indonesia few countries in the region have taken steps to support these companies. Governments have also shifted some of the burden related to policy support to utilities and other infrastructure providers. Nevertheless, the essential nature of these companies’ services may help shore up demand for some.

by Deborah Tan from Moody’s Investor Services