The economic effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus around the world

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Rosamond Hutt, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • China’s economic growth expected to slow to 4.5% in the first quarter of 2020 – the slowest pace since the financial crisis, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
  • “Global oil demand has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus,” says the International Energy Agency.
  • Factory shutdowns are slowing the flow of products and parts from China, affecting companies around the world, including Apple and Nissan.

As China grapples with the coronavirus, the economic damage is mounting around the world.

There are around 70,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the new coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China, in December and is spreading around the world.

Businesses are dealing with lost revenue and disrupted supply chains due to China’s factory shutdowns, tens of millions of people remaining in lockdown in dozens of cities and other countries extending travel restrictions.

 

With many companies and countries depending on the health of China’s economy, here are a few ways the outbreak is sending ripples around the world.

Predicted slump

China is the world’s second-largest economy and leading trading nation, so economic fallout from coronavirus also threatens global growth.

Economists polled by Reuters between 7-13 February said they expected China’s economic growth to slump to 4.5% in the first quarter of 2020, down from 6% in the previous quarter – the slowest pace since the financial crisis.

However, the economists were optimistic China’s economy would recover quickly if the virus could be contained.

Falling oil demand

China is the world’s biggest oil importer. With coronavirus hitting manufacturing and travel, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted the first drop in global oil demand in a decade.

“Global oil demand has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the widespread shutdown of China’s economy. Demand is now expected to fall by 435,000 barrels year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020, the first quarterly contraction in more than 10 years,” the IEA said in its latest monthly report.

Disruption to commerce

The shortage of products and parts from China is affecting companies around the world, as factories delayed opening after the Lunar New Year and workers stayed home to help reduce the spread of the virus.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about epidemics?

Epidemics are a huge threat to health and the economy: the vast spread of disease can literally destroy societies.

In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and to enable access to them during outbreaks.

Our world needs stronger, unified responses to major health threats. By creating alliances and coalitions like CEPI, which involve expertise, funding and other support, we are able to collectively address the most pressing global health challenges.

Is your organisation interested in working with the World Economic Forum to tackle global health issues? Find out more here.

Apple’s manufacturing partner in China, Foxconn, is facing a production delay. Some carmakers including Nissan and Hyundai temporarily closed factories outside China because they couldn’t get parts.

The pharmaceutical industry is also bracing for disruption to global production.

Many trade shows and sporting events in China and across Asia have been cancelled or postponed.

The travel and tourism industries were hit early on by economic disruption from the outbreak.

Global airline revenues are expected to fall by $4-5 billion in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of flight cancellations, according to a report from the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

ICAO also forecasts that Japan could lose $1.29 billion of tourism revenue in the first quarter due to the drop in Chinese travellers while Thailand could lose $1.15 billion.

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