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Feb 02, 2021 / 13:50

Vietnam tops ASEAN in Optimism Index amid Covid-19

Vietnam scored 62.4 points compared to 53.8 in Malaysia, 52.7 in Singapore, 52 in Thailand, and 49.6 in Indonesia.

Vietnamese people show optimistic sentiment about the future despite the pandemic-caused economic and social challenges, according to the UOB Optimism Index.

 Vietnam gathers internal strengths in the pandemic fight. Source: Tap Chi Dien Tu

Compared with ASEAN peers, Vietnam ranked the highest on the index with a score of 62.4 out of maximum 100, well ahead of Malaysia with 53.8, Singapore 52.7, Thailand 52.0, and Indonesia 49.6.

The UOB Optimism Index, derived from the Bank’s UOB ASEAN Consumer Sentiment Study, measures how concerned consumers are about rising Covid-19 infections, continued restrictions on gatherings and travel, the economic impact of the pandemic and their personal financial well-being and outlook.

For the study’s inaugural run in July 2020, more than 3,500 respondents from five ASEAN countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, were interviewed. In Vietnam, 620 people from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City responded to the study.

Mr Harry Loh, Chief Executive Officer of UOB Vietnam, said “Our research indicates that Vietnamese are positive about the overall future outlook, even as they experienced changes in their lifestyles and habits due to social distancing measures. Eight in ten Vietnamese (81%) said they expect life to go back to the way it was by end 2021, the highest share of respondents compared with other countries in ASEAN. Their optimism, the highest in the region, could be due to Vietnam’s relative success at containing the spread of the Covid-19, which has set a strong foundation for the recovery of the economy.”

Posting a growth rate of 2.9% in 2020, Vietnam was one of the few economies in the world to secure positive growth and is set to become the fourth largest in ASEAN based on the International Monetary Fund’s 2020 forecasts.

UOB Global Economics and Markets Research estimates the country to achieve 7.1% growth for 2021.

In addition, the recent development of Vietnam-manufactured vaccines Nanocovax and Covivac against SARS-CoV-2 has fuelled hopes for vaccination roll-out, lifting of social restrictions and a faster return to normalcy.

In terms of generation, the UOB Optimism Index shows that Baby Boomers in Vietnam are most optimistic about their future (67.7), followed by Generation X (65.2) and Generation Y (59.8).

This result for Vietnam is unique because for the rest of the region, Baby Boomers have shown to be the least optimistic. A possible reason for this could be that the Baby Boomer generation in Vietnam grew up in tumultuous times, building their resilience and shaping their mindset of perseverance and progression.

When asked to describe their sentiments and mood amid the pandemic, more Baby Boomers chose positive words such as “hopeful” (43%), “relieved” (35%) and “happy” (29%). In comparison, fewer Generation X respondents expressed the same positivity, with 38%, 23%, and 23% choosing the sentiments respectively. The percentages were lower for Generation Y at 28%, 22%, and 11%, respectively.

Regarding personal finance, Vietnamese are certain that they will be better off in a year’s time, with 72% of them saying that they will be financially better, with optimism broad-based across the different age groups. Vietnam also topped the region in this area, ahead of 57% for Malaysia, 52% in Thailand, 47% in Indonesia, and 41% in Singapore.

UOB, a leading bank in Asia with a global network of more than 500 offices in 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Europe and North America, has operated in Vietnam in 1993 and was the first Singapore bank to launch a branch in the country in 1995.