ZURICH, March 19 (Reuters) - The Swiss government slashed its forecast for economic growth in 2020 on Thursday, saying it expected the coronavirus outbreak to trigger a recession in the country.
The Swiss economy is expected to contract by 1.3% this year, down from an December forecast for growth of 1.7%, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said.
The downturn would be the first decline in the Swiss economy since it shrank by 2.2% in 2009 during the global financial crisis.
"The spread of the new coronavirus at home and abroad will temporarily shut down parts of the economy," the government said.
"Provided the virus situation stabilises, the economy should gradually recover from the second half of the year onwards," it added, conceding that forecasting uncertainties were "extraordinarily high".
The government said it expects a rebound next year, with output increasing 3.3% in 2021, up from its December forecast of 1.2%.
Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Michael Shields