The start of the new decade has seen significant shifts for many ASEAN businesses. With the global economy grappling with the pandemic, ASEAN’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been likewise impacted. How these SMEs respond and find ways to manage the disruption to their business is of significance – they are the backbone of the region’s growth, accounting for at least 97 per cent of businesses across ASEAN.
In the ASEAN SME Transformation Study 2020 by UOB, Accenture and Dun & Bradstreet, almost nine in 10 SMEs surveyed (88 per cent) expect a decline in revenue this year. While ensuring sufficient cash flow is the immediate priority for almost half of the SMEs, 60 per cent of them are refocusing on digitalisation as a top priority to secure their long-term competitiveness.
Top 5 preferred strategies to gain competitive advantage before the COVID-19 outbreak
Top 5 preferred strategies to gain competitive advantage during COVID-19
The study was conducted before and during COVID-19 and involved surveying a total of 1,000 SMEs across Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, to find out how their businesses have been impacted by the pandemic. The report also explores other areas including the potential opportunities for ASEAN SMEs as they prepare for economic recovery.
Opportunities for ASEAN post-COVID-19
While ASEAN continues to weather the impact of COVID-19, the region’s strong fundamentals – including a young demographic, rising consumption and increased infrastructure spending – ensure that its long-term growth potential remains intact.
The findings of the survey back this belief in the ASEAN growth story. Some 33 per cent of ASEAN SMEs say that they will expand into new markets once the pandemic ends. The top three most attractive markets are Singapore (64 per cent), Malaysia (51 per cent) and Thailand (50 per cent).
Sectoral outlook for 2020 by country
Source for sectoral outlook: Dun & Bradstreet
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