KL, Manila among Asian cities with biggest losses from Covid-19 lockdowns: report

An empty walkway and shuttered shops in Bonifacio Global City in Manila.
An empty walkway and shuttered shops in Bonifacio Global City in Manila.
APRIL 01, 2020 - 5:34 PM

AMONG the various lockdowns in Asia-Pacific megacities due to the Covid-19 outbreak, those in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Manila pose the biggest downside risk as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), according a Barclays special report on April 1.

Kuala Lumpur and Manila are also among the cities seeing the highest absolute economic loss, alongside Delhi and Mumbai, with estimated losses ranging from US$1 billion to US$1.7 billion per week.

The report studied the impact of shutdowns in megacities and economic clusters in Asia outside China and Japan, including the Asean cities mentioned above as well as Jakarta and Singapore.

It noted that "small, open economies such as Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines have economic activity centred around just one mega city".

Furthermore, as "non-tradables dominate activity" in most megacities, the loss of output from shutdowns there cannot be recouped even when activity returns to normal.

Mumbai, Delhi, Manila and Kuala Lumpur were deemed to be under full lockdown, with Bangkok, Sydney, Melbourne, Jakarta and Singapore deemed to be under partial lockdown.

If the cities under partial lockdown -- which "have had limited loss of output" -- move to a full lockdown, the impact will rise accordingly. For Bangkok, Singapore, and Jakarta, a full lockdown could raise the losses per week to over US$2 billion in each city, with Singapore being the worst hit.