MANILA - The new round of lockdowns to curb the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant could delay the Philippines' economic recovery momentum to next year, an IHS Markit economist said Monday.
Lockdowns to arrest the more contagious Delta variant "hurt" vulnerable countries more especially those with very low vaccination rates, IHS Markit Asia-Pacific chief economist Rajiv Biswas told ANC.
"We have had to cut our forecast for the Philippines since the beginning of this year because of the impact of the new COVID wave as well as lockdowns coming in and out enforced in the Philippines," Biswas said.
"Originally we have expected a more rapid recovery this year but it's clear now Delta wave of COVID has really hurt many countries in the Asia Pacific with low vaccination rates and so, therefore, the re-opening of the economy suffered some major setbacks," he added.
The economy could grow up to 5.5 percent this year "but I think a lot of the momentum recovery is being pushed into next year because until high vaccination is reached, many sectors cannot reopen," he said.
Despite the strong demand for the export of electronics, which has kept the manufacturing sector resilient in July, the sector could see a "temporary blow" due to the new variant, Biswas said.
"There’s a clear link between the severity of lockdown and economic activity, this new lockdown during the month of August in the Philippines, we would expect to see that will directly impact on industrial production, domestic manufacturing," he said.
Metro Manila will be under a lockdown for the third time, from Aug. 6 to Aug. 20.
The Philippines aims to inoculate 50 to 70 percent of its over 110 population by the end of the year. However, only 7.8 million have been vaccinated as of July 30.