Fitch Solutions Cuts India’s Economic Growth Forecast To 4.9% For FY20
Workers unload a truck and carts at a wholesale market in Delhi, India. Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg

Fitch Solutions Cuts India’s Economic Growth Forecast To 4.9% For FY20

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Fitch Solutions on Monday cut its forecast for India's economic growth to 4.9 percent in the current fiscal that ends March 31, saying manufacturing could come under pressure from weak domestic demand and supply chain disruptions due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The GDP growth is forecast to recover slightly to 5.4 percent in 2020-21 (April 2020 to March 2021), it said.

"We at Fitch Solutions are revising down our forecast for India's real GDP growth to 4.9 percent in FY2019/20, from 5.1 percent previously, and 5.4 percent in FY2020/21, from 5.9 percent previously," the agency said in its outlook for the country.

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India's real GDP growth decelerated to 4.7 percent in the third quarter (October-December) from an upwardly revised 5.1 percent in the second quarter owing to slower government consumption, a steeper contraction in gross fixed capital formation and a smaller net exports contribution.

“A failure of the FY2020/21 Union Budget to provide support to the industry will also bring little reprieve for a sluggish industry already coming under heavy pressure from a credit squeeze following the collapse of several key Non-Bank Financial Companies,” -Fitch Solutions.

NBFCs are a key channel in which consumers obtain loans for vehicle and housing purchases.

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"Our revision is due to our view for disruption in the automotive and electronics supply chain from the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in China to weigh on India's export manufacturing sector, and for this to have negative knock-on effects on the broad services sector," Fitch Solutions said.

It expected a mild pick-up in growth in the next fiscal assuming an easing of the virus spread from June, which should see a broad-based improvement in the economic activity.

"We expect manufacturing activity to come under further pressure from weak domestic demand and also supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which started in China. Weak manufacturing activity would also have a knock-on impact on slowing services growth," it said.

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It expected manufacturing and services to pick up in FY2020/21. "We also expect economic activity to be supported by an improvement in the agriculture sector through better harvest prospects and fiscal support announced in the FY2020/21 Union Budget."

The growth deceleration in the third quarter was mainly due to a collapse in gross fixed capital growth, which contracted by 4.5 percent, and slowdown in government consumption growth to 11.8 percent from 13.2 percent in the second quarter.

Fitch Solutions spoke about continuing weakness in the manufacturing sector noting that the contraction in manufacturing eased slightly to 0.2 percent in Q3, from 0.4 percent in Q2.

We expect manufacturing (14 percent of GDP) growth to remain weak over the near term
Fitch Solutions

Also read: Making Sense Of India’s GDP Data Amid Its Many Revisions

Also, a continued contraction in total vehicle sales, suggests that the outlook for the automotive industry remains weak, Fitch Solutions said forecasting that the total vehicle demand would remain weak over the coming months, which should also see production remain in contraction.

Auto industry contributes 7.5 percent to the total GDP and accounts for half of the manufacturing GDP.

On the external front, supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which began in China, will also severely curtail manufacturing activity across automotive and electronics due to a shortage of parts.

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The coronavirus outbreak in China has prompted the Chinese authorities to implement varying degrees of lockdowns on many cities nationwide.

"Extended factory work stoppages after the Lunar New Year holiday in January, domestic restrictions travel, and labour shortages even as the Chinese government attempts to get factories to resume operations have severely disrupted supply lines across the world," it said.

China supplies between 10-30 percent of automotive components used in India's automotive manufacturing, with the proportion supplied being two to three times higher for the electric vehicle segment.

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For the Indian electronics manufacturing sector, China accounts for 75 percent of the total value of components used in televisions and 85 percent in smartphones, supplying parts from mobile displays, printed circuit boards, memory and LED chips to air conditioner compressors and washing machine motors.

Also, services (52 percent of GDP) growth will also come under intense headwinds over the near term owing to likely work stoppages in manufacturing following a lack of inputs.

"We forecast real GDP growth to recover slightly to 5.4 percent in FY2020/21, with the pick-up to be broad-based. Our forecast assumes that the COVID-19 outbreak will be contained by H1FY2020/21, although we stress that there remains significant downside risks to this forecast as there is still limited visibility on the virus spread in developing markets," Fitch Solutions said.

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Expecting agriculture to benefit from strong fiscal support announced during the FY2020/21 Union Budget, it said a normal monsoon, as forecast by Skymet in January should also see a significant improvement in the 2020 summer harvest versus 2019.

A likely ramping up of manufacturing activity to clear backlogged export orders would also support stronger growth in the sector.

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