ASEAN infra push to boost construction recovery

The focus of ASEAN-member countries on infrastructure development coupled with rising demand for green projects  is creating optimism for the region’s construction sector.

In the COVID-19 Response Report, Oxford Business Group’s Regional Editor for Asia Jade Currie said the ASEAN bloc’s commitment to priority infrastructure activity, combined with evolving construction demands, should be a source of optimism for the region’s investors.

“A renewed public sector commitment to infrastructure development, coupled with the rising demand for clean, green and smart urban environments, signals a promising outlook for ASEAN’s construction sector,” she said.  

“This presents a diverse range of investment opportunities, particularly for PPP (Public Private Partnerships)s and ESG-compliant developments, and will be key in driving a robust economic recovery across the region,” she added.

The report, produced in partnership with global planning, engineering and project management company Meinhardt Group, noted that infrastructure remains a key development priority in the ASEAN region. Transport, utilities and digital infrastructure offer standout potential to boost regional trade, generate jobs and facilitate inclusive growth, it added.

“To finance these projects, the bloc aims to welcome more sustainable investments – particularly PPPs  – to generate wide-ranging multiplier effects and boost global competitiveness,” the report said.

It added that with the potential to drive sustainable growth and in a bid to protect daily-wage earners, construction-focused fiscal and/or monetary measures were introduced by the eight hardest-hit bloc members, including the Philippines, with its Build Build Build program.

Other countries that have implemented construction-focused measures include Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam.

Meinhardt group chief executive officer Omar Shahzad said there is great optimism that the ASEAN construction industry is on the path to recovery.

“ASEAN’s construction industry is projected to post growth of 7.5 percent for 2021, far outpacing the anticipated global growth rate of three percent,” Shahzad said.

“This V-shaped recovery will see the industry reach – and indeed surpass – pre-pandemic activity levels as soon as 2022,” he added.