Moody’s Sees Impact Of Coronavirus Outbreak More Pronounced In India, China
A monitor displays Moody’s Corp. signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)  

Moody’s Sees Impact Of Coronavirus Outbreak More Pronounced In India, China

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Moody's Investor Services has lowered its growth forecast for the Asia-Pacific region to 5.2 percent for 2020 citing lingering effects of the coronavirus outbreak, the impact of which will be more pronounced on China and India.

The coronavirus that emerged in China early January has killed over 1,860 people and infected more than 72,000 so far. The epidemic has forced China to shutter over a dozen of its teeming cities, locking up more than 60 million people and closing down tens of thousands of factories, impacting the global supply chain.

The impact of the shuttering is large as China contributes 16 percent of global gross domestic product, up from 4 percent when it was hit by the SARS virus in 2003. The country consumes over a fifth of metals globally besides controlling over 40 percent of the global apparel and textile trade.

As of now, from the supply side, the electronics market is the worst hit as the Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, is known as the 'Optics Valley' of the world. There will be an impact on automobile and drugs, among other key sectors.

Lowering the 2020 GDP growth forecast for the Asia-Pacific region to 5.2 percent, except developed economies in the region that are collectively projected to clip at 0.8 percent, Moody's Investor Service said: “Economic growth will slow across Asia-Pacific as the coronavirus weakens demand and disrupts supply chains. But, the impact will be more pronounced in the first quarter.”

Moody’s attributed this to falling growth in China—5.2 percent in 2020 from 5.8 percent projected earlier—and India, whose GDP is estimated to expand by 5.4 percent this year from 6.6 percent projected earlier.

Lower Chinese import demand is the primary reason for the slowing growth and intra-regional trade amplifies the impact of lower growth in China, it added.

The report said impact of the outbreak on overall growth will be felt primarily through trade and tourism, and for some sectors through supply-chain disruptions.

"Our baseline assumption is that economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak will continue for a number of weeks before tailing off and allowing normal economic activity to resume," according the report.

Accordingly, "we have lowered China growth forecast to 5.2 percent for 2020 from 5.8 percent previously, reflecting a severe but short-lived economic impact, with knock-on effects for economies across the region," it said.

Specifically, Moody's expects Macau and Hong Kong will face the biggest hit, given their close economic integration with China.

The overall lower forecast also incorporates downward projections for India due to the outbreak, coupled with the already weaker domestic demand in India, apart from the hit on the Thai economy.

Reduced Chinese demand for Asian exports and supply-chain disruptions represent the two most direct transmission channels for slowing growth, although services trade adding a third channel. This is because goods and commodity exporters are the most exposed to a protracted fall in Chinese demand, while tourism hubs that rely on Chinese visitors will also be vulnerable.

Growth impact will be more pronounced in the first quarter as its baseline assumption is that the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak will continue for a number of weeks before they tail off and normal economic activity resumes.

Also Read: What You Need to Know About the Spreading Coronavirus

However, a prolonged coronavirus outbreak will cause significant second-round effects, including severe supply-chain disruptions.

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