The coronavirus could drag Australian GDP growth close to zero for this quarter, and the
situation could get worse before it gets better, according to BetaShares.

The novel coronavirus has already severely impacted global tourism and travel as it rampages
through China, and that could have a massive follow-on effect on the Australian economy.

“Australia is also one of the developed economies most exposed to the outbreak, with Chinese
inbound tourism estimated at five times more important to the economy than in the case of the
US,” said BetaShares chief economist David Bassanese.

“The negative impact on Australia is especially ill-timed, coming in the wake of recent bushfires
and a substantial slowdown in private spending.”

Australia is now more exposed to tourism than it was at the height of the SARS pandemic in
2003, which saw visits from Chinese tourists decline by 80 per cent in the three months from
February to May.

“Today, tourism accounts for around 3 per cent of GDP, of which China accounts for around 20
per cent (or 0.6 per cent of GDP),” said Mr Bassanese.

“So broad calculations suggest a halving of Chinese tourism number over a quarter could
directly knock off 0.3 per cent from quarterly GDP growth.”

While more Australians might choose to holiday at home in the wake of the bushfires as part of
the ‘empty eskies’ campaign to economically revitalise impacted areas, they are just as likely to
divert their holidays to other parts of the world, Mr Bassanese said.

“Of course, assuming the virus is contained within only a few months (as was the case with
SARS in 2003), the negative impact on local economic growth should be short-lived, with
tourism likely to rebound by the second half of the year,” said Mr Bassanese.

“But Australia faces a difficult growth challenges over the next few months, which suggests the
RBA will likely be forced to cut interest rates further – although probably not as early as next
week.” “Coronavirus threatens health of Aussie economy” /
Lachlan Maddock

Brought to you by David Philipsen of Parker Finance

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