Hong Kong and Thailand are likely to be the hardest hit Asian economies outside mainland China from the deadly coronavirus outbreak, according to analysts. The 2019-nCoV, which had claimed the lives of nearly 640 people and infected more than 31,000 in mainland China by Friday, is viewed as even more damaging than the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) epidemic in 2002-2003 because of prolonged factory closures and transport restrictions that have locked down many Chinese cities. China has become more closely integrated with the rest of Asia since the Sars outbreak, meaning the disruptions to China’s industrial and export sectors, combined with a sharp drop in economic activity in the first quarter, will have significant repercussions across the region, particularly through tourism and trade, analysts said. “A collapse in tourism arrivals from China will be the first shock wave for the rest of the region,” said Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist at Capital Economics. “Factory closures in China will affect the rest of the region by disrupting regional supply chains.” A collapse in tourism arrivals from China will be the first shock wave for the rest of the region. Factory closures in China will affect the rest of the region by disrupting regional supply chains Gareth Leather Hong Kong would likely be the most affected because of its status as a trade hub, its tight linkages to the Chinese economy and the sharp decline in tourism expenditure that is expected, UBS economist William Deng noted. “Due to the risk of infection, domestic households significantly reduced such activities as dining out, shopping and entertainment,” Deng wrote in a recent note. He cut Hong Kong’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast to minus 1.8 per cent for 2020, against his previous projection of a 0.5 per cent drop. A community outbreak spread by human-to-human transmission has started in the city, said Professor Yuen Kwok-yung , a top microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong on Wednesday. Thailand could be the next most affected due to its dependence on Chinese tourism. Outside Hong Kong and Macau, the country has the highest exposure to China as a share of GDP in the region. ANZ Bank’s head of Asia research Khoon Goh said that the novel coronavirus could knock US$760 million from Thailand’s economy in the first quarter. Hong Kong could could see losses of US$1.4 billion. Travel services as a share of GDP were 11.2 per cent in Thailand and 9.4 per cent in Hong Kong. “The Thai economy would expand at a slower rate in 2020 than previously forecast and much further below its potential due to the outbreak of coronavirus,” Bank of Thailand said in a statement after it slashed interest rates to a record low on Wednesday. South Korean and Taiwanese businesses will also have negative spillover effects from the coronavirus outbreak because of supply chain disruptions and weaker consumer sentiment inside and outside China, analysts said. South Korean car and tech companies that rely on parts from Chinese suppliers are exposed to potential production disruptions stemming from factory closures and the evacuation of Korean workers from China-based production lines, said Sean Hwang, corporate finance group analyst at Moody’s Investors Group. For instance, Hyundai Motor Company closed some if its South Korea-based plants on February 4 because of a shortage of wiring harnesses. Korean customers are also limiting their trips to bricks-and-mortar retail stores such as E Mart and Lotte Shopping to avoid crowds amid the outbreak, potentially leading to a significant decline in revenue and earnings, Hwang said. Although Singapore is not as closely tied to China as Hong Kong, the city state could still see a knock-on effect from China’s expected near-term downturn, as its economy has become much more integrated with the world’s second largest economy since the Sars outbreak. The number of Chinese tourists rose six times from 568,000 in 2003 to 3.4 million in 2018, said Irvin Seah, senior economist at DBS Bank. “We expect a decline of about 1 million tourists or about SGD1 billion (US$722 million) of lost tourism receipts for every three months of travel ban,” Seah said. “We have lowered our full-year GDP growth forecast to 0.9 per cent, down from 1.4 per cent previously.” Taiwan has banned Chinese visitors as well as foreigners who have visited Hong Kong and Macau from entering the island due the coronavirus. International cruise ships are also unable to dock on the island, which will lead to at least 112 liner visits cancelled by the end of March, affecting around 144,000 passengers, said the Taiwan International Ports Corporation. Capital Economics’ Leather said the economic impact on Taiwan from 2019-nCoV could stand out from the rest of Asia, as it had the most exposure in value-added, intermediate exports to China – 18 per cent of GDP. Elsewhere, Malaysia’s commodity driven trade growth this year has been threatened by the almost 20 per cent fall in crude oil prices, a decline triggered by fears that the coronavirus outbreak would dampen China’s imports. Malaysia’s purchasing managers’ index, a survey of manufacturers, dropped to 48.8 in January from 50.0 the prior month prior, data released this week showed. The drop was blamed on slowing output, with new orders dropping the most since September amid a decline in exports. “The Bank Negara Malaysia’s surprising policy rate cut at the last meeting on 22 January, just around the time the coronavirus started to dominate headlines, tells us that the central bank is ahead of the curve in recognising the risk,” said Prakash Sakpal, Asia economist at ING Bank said. India and Indonesia will be the least affected given the small contribution the tourism sector makes to their economies, and the low share of visitors from China, ANZ’s Goh said.