World Economy

India to Claim Top Spot for 2018 Growth

In the short-term a trade war between  US and China may impact India.
In the short-term a trade war between  US and China may impact India.

India will claim the top spot among the world’s fastest-growing major economies this year, but rising trade tensions between the United States and China may restrain that growth, a Reuters poll of economists showed.

The recent tit-for-tat import tariffs imposed by the US and China have raised concerns about a full-fledged global trade war which could throw an otherwise-strong world economy off-course.

Twenty of 29 economists who answered an extra question said India’s economy will be hurt by the ongoing trade dispute. “India runs the risk of being caught in the middle of the trade spat between the US and China,” said Hugo Erken, senior economist at Rabobank.

Erken said growth will take a hit if India takes sides as the side not chosen may retaliate by imposing duties. “The damage would especially be large if India retaliated with an import duty on either US or Chinese imports,” said Erken, adding that such a scenario was unlikely.

However, not all economists shared that view. Nine respondents said India’s economy would benefit from the dispute. “Though in the short-term a trade war between US and China may impact global trade including India, in the long-term, India is likely to benefit as China will be forced to devaluate its currency to remain a dominant player in the world market,” wrote RK Gupta, managing director at Taurus Asset Management. “In that scenario, India’s exports will be more competitive with China.”

The latest poll, taken April 11-18, predicted India’s economy will expand 7.4% in the fiscal year that began this month. That is in line with the International Monetary Fund’s projection, and is a slight upgrade from the January poll. For the next fiscal year, growth is expected to average 7.5%, a touch lower than the IMF’s forecast of 7.8%.

After growth slowed sharply for much of last year, India regained its status as the world’s fastest-growing major economy in the quarter ending December 2017.

The slowdown was mainly driven by the government’s sudden decision in November 2016 to scrap high-value currency notes and a botched implementation of a goods and services tax in July last year.

But the impact of those moves has now faded. “The investment cycle is recovering, and there is steady improvement in consumption,” noted Sonal Verma and Aurodeep Nandi at Nomura.

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