VIENNA (Reuters) - The Swiss government will lower its economic growth forecast because of the coronavirus outbreak, an official from its State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said on Saturday.
Stock markets around the world slid this week because of fears the coronavirus outbreak will disrupt global supply chains and hurt economic growth. Many countries have either lowered their growth forecasts or said they might depending on how the illness spreads.
Export-dependent Switzerland borders Italy, the centre of Europe's worst outbreak of the disease, though it has had only 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far. That number is expected to rise - five more people have had an initial positive test that has yet to be confirmed, the government said.
"We will certainly revise our December growth forecast significantly and publish it on March 17," Eric Scheidegger, head of SECO's economic policy directorate, told a government news conference on the coronavirus outbreak.
SECO's last forecast in December predicted gross domestic product growth of 1.7% this year.
"A correction of the growth forecast is to be expected. How sharp that correction will be is not yet clear," Scheidegger said, adding that it would depend on how the outbreak develops and the effect on countries, including Switzerland's trading partners.
(Reporting by Francois Murphy, editing by Louise Heavens)