Singapore fears economic impact of Covid-19 (coronavirus) will exceed SARS

  • ASEAN+
  • Friday, 14 Feb 2020

A customer wearing a protective mask browses accessories at a store in the Chinatown area of Singapore, on Friday, (Feb 14). Singapore last week raised its disease response level to the same grade used during the SARS epidemic, as it braced for what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said was a “major test for our nation.” - Bloomberg

SINGAPORE: Singapore's economy "will take a hit" from the spreading Covid-19 (coronavirus), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday (Feb 14) while inspecting health screening measures at the city-state's international airport.

Lee said that the economic impact of the disease, also known as Covid-19, will likely top that of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003, which resulted in reduced commerce and travel across East and South-East Asia and saw Singapore's wealthy, trade-based economy shrink by 0.3% during that year's second quarter.

The coronavirus death toll has already exceeded that of SARS. Lee warned that, although Singapore was free of SARS within four months, the timetable for coronavirus "may not be so fast."

Lee said that coronavirus will have a bigger impact as "economies of the region are much more interlinked together."

"China, particularly, is a much bigger factor in the region," Lee added.

China accounted for 17% of Singapore's exports and 19% of visitors in 2019, more than double the numbers during the SARS crisis, when China's gross domestic product was roughly one-eighth its current size.

The Singapore Government will announce its 2020 Budget on April 18.

Measures are expected to counter the likely impact of reduced trade with and tourism from China, with the Finance Ministry pledging "targeted support to the sectors that have been more directly affected".

Singapore's GDP growth dropped from 3.1% in 2018 to 0.7% in 2019, largely due to disruptions to electronics exports caused by the China-US trade war.

Lee said on Friday that a recession is "possible" this year. - dpa/Asian News Network
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SIngapore , Prime Minister , Recession


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