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COVID-19 AND THE ASIA PACIFIC REGION: WHAT NEXT?

FOR obvious reasons, 2020 is not a year any of us will ever forget. At the time of writing, however, there were reminders of what life was like before a tiny virus turned our world upside down: across Europe, bars and hairdressers re-opened and holiday makers crowded to beaches. Across the Asia Pacific region, recovery was underway in those countries that acted quickly to contain COVID-19. Oil prices, too, were showing some signs of pre-COVID-19 normality, holding steady in a US$40–45 per barrel.

Yet it’s a veneer of normality against a backdrop of ongoing infection and unprecedented economic disruption. Politicians are urging their citizens to return to normal to bolster flagging economies but scientists are already worrying about a second wave of infection breaking over the final months of 2020.

For the oil markets, this has been the strangest year but there is clear relief that the demand destruction that triggered ‘Black April’ has passed. There has been a strong rebound in demand...

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