Amongst ASEAN, the Philippines and Singapore experience largest manufacturing decrease in March

Among surveyed Southeast Asian countries in the recent Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) of the IHS Markit disclosed on April 1 that the performance of the manufacturing sector of the Philippines and Singapore underwent the largest decrease amongst it’s ASEAN counterparts.

ASEAN’s headline Purchasing Managers’ Index for March plummeted to 43.4, hitting the lowest levels in nearly eight years.

Readings above 50 reflect improvement in the sector, while indices below 50 show deterioration.

For the Philippines, the Luzon-wide community quarantine stressed the country’s manufacturing performance for the month.

“The Covid-19 pandemic took its toll on goods production in the Philippines in March, as the enforced lockdown of Luzon island led many manufacturers to halt operations until restrictions are lifted. These shutdowns led to sharp declines across the sector, with output, new orders, employment and stocks of purchases all falling at record paces,” IHS Markit Economist David Owen said.

Owen added that with the uncertainties of the situation brought upon by the Covid-19 global pandemic, businesses were much less optimistic about their operation for the foregoing future of the next 12 months.

Singapore’s manufacturing PMI in March registered 27.7, Philippines at 39.7, Vietnam at 41.9, Indonesia and Myanmar at 45.3, Thailand at 46.7, and Malaysia at 48.4.

Asean’s manufacturing sector fell in March to contractions in terms of output, new orders, inventories, and employment, the survey said.

“Restrictive measures stemming from efforts to contain the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) outbreak and substantial uncertainty surrounding the outlook also eroded firms output expectations during March,” the IHS Markit report said.

Out of the seven surveyed ASEAN countries, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand imposed lockdown last month. However, Vietnam recently only announced the same measures to be instituted on the last day of March.

Another IHS Markit economist, Lewis Cooper, forecasted that Asean’s manufacturing sector will continue to decline for several months amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

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