Indonesia GDP growth seen up slightly in fourth quarter, virus to hurt 2020 outlook: Reuters poll

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s economic growth probably edged up in final quarter of last year, but full-year 2019 growth could slow for the first time in four years due to falling exports and investment, a Reuters poll showed on Monday.

The median forecast of 21 analysts in a Reuters poll was for the economy to expand 5.04% from a year earlier, a touch quicker than the pace in the previous three months of 5.02%.

For full-year 2019, the median forecast of 14 analysts was for 5.03%, compared with the previous year’s 5.17%.

A smaller pool of analysts predicted growth in Southeast Asia’s largest economy would then pick up to 5.09% this year, though some noted that the epidemic in China could hurt the global economy, including Indonesia.

Last year, Indonesia’s economy was battered by falling exports in line with slowing global trade due to the protracted U.S.-China tariff dispute and sluggish investment, with businesses adopting a wait-and-see approach due to domestic elections. The third quarter’s growth rate was the weakest in over two years.

“We expect Indonesia’s Q4 GDP growth to have edged up marginally but remain at lackluster levels,” ANZ in a research note.

The bank pointed to deteriorating capital goods imports, which is a proxy for investment, while net export volume growth had likely eased.

The government has sought to prop up GDP growth by making no significant cuts in its spending, despite a $15 billion revenue shortfall in 2019. The central bank last year also reduced rates by 100 basis points and eased lending rules to lift growth.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani last month predicted economic growth of 5.06% for the October-December quarter. That would bring 2019 growth’s to 5.02%, below the government’s 5.3% target, she said. This year’s target is also 5.3%.

She household consumption to have stagnated and public spending to have slowed in the fourth quarter, but investment may have picked up, according to her presentation to lawmakers.

David Sumual, BCA’s chief economist, said this year’s GDP will be affected by the coronavirus epidemic, with tourism and transport sectors already taking a hit.

However, the virus could also be seen as an opportunity, Sumual said. “When there were floods in Thailand, automotive companies diversified their investment. Trade war has also triggered factory relocation,” he said, adding that the epidemic may force companies to diversify even more into Southeast Asia.

There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Indonesia.

(Polling by Tabita Diela, Nilufar Rizki in Jakarta and Shaloo Shrivastava and Khushboo Mittal in Bengaluru; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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