News Coronavirus watch18 Feb 2020

GCC:S&P assesses potential coronavirus impact on Gulf economies

18 Feb 2020

S&P Global Ratings says it expects implications of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak could weigh on growth prospects in the GCC, given the importance of the Chinese economy to global economic activity.

In an article titled, "Coronavirus Increases Risks For Gulf Economies", S&P says it expects the rating impact will be limited for GCC issuers, however, assuming the virus will be contained by March 2020, allowing travel and other restrictions to be unwound in the second quarter, and there is no major impact on oil prices.

China contributes between 4% and 45% of GCC countries' total good exports, with Oman being the most exposed. Virus-related travel restrictions, if not lifted as S&P expects, could weigh on the GCC's hospitality industry, but more so in Dubai, which received almost 1m visitors from China in 2019.

If the virus continues to spread, there is a risk that the economic impact could increase unpredictably, with credit implications not just for China but elsewhere.

For the GCC, this could result in a drop in oil prices, economic growth, and real estate prices, alongside a change in government spending, which could put pressure on regional issuers we rate. Under S&P's base-case scenario, however, the international credit rating agency expects the impact on its ratings to be limited for now.

The rate of spread and timing of the peak of the new coronavirus is still uncertain. However, modelling by epidemiologists indicates a likely range for the peak of between late-February and June. For purposes of assessing the economic and credit implications of the outbreak, S&P assumes the outbreak will be contained in March.


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