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Global economy sideswiped by coronavirus

The economic impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus has hit markets across the world, although some restrictions in China have been eased.

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Global economy sideswiped by coronavirus

Global stockmarkets fell by more than 10 per cent last week and continue to come under pressure.

 

Economists had downgraded their outlooks for economies, with the International Monetary Fund expecting first quarter growth in China to be at just 5.6 per cent, the lowest level since 1990.

 

However, US-bank JP Morgan was expecting a 15 per cent bounce-back in China in the second quarter of 2020 as the country shakes-off the effect of the disease.

 

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development downgraded its global economic forecast by 0.5 per cent to 2.4 per cent growth for 2020, the weakest figure since 2009.

 

If the virus outbreak can be contained in China by the end of March and other outbreaks contained then global growth in 2021 could rebound to 3.3 per cent.

 

UK economic performance may also be impacted by the virus.

 

There was no growth in the last three months of 2019 because of Brexit uncertainty and there is an expectation that first quarter performance will be weaker than previously expected.


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Impact

Due to the lead times involved in shipping goods around the world, the impact of the shutdown of Chinese factories is only now being felt.

 

Soren Skou, chief executive of shipping company Maersk, said: “We are experiencing huge pressure at Chinese port terminals because there are not enough workers at the ports to move the containers around, not enough truck drivers to move the goods, and no one to receive them at the factories or warehouses.”

 

Rotterdam harbour in the Netherlands has reported a 20 per cent decline in departures from Chinese ports to its facilities.

 

Meanwhile, analysis by the Harvard Business Review showed disruption to global trade could peak in mid-March but last for many months.

 

The Baltic Dry Index, which monitors global shipping costs, halved in January and has stayed at four-year lows ever since.

 

China, along with Japan and South Korea, have been among the UK’s fastest growing export markets, according to figures from the Food and Drink Federation.

 

UK food sales to China and Hong Kong were more than £1.2 billion in 2019, with food imports from the duo about a third of that figure.

 

Growth in UK food exports to Japan in 2019 was more than 20 per cent, with a 15 per cent increase in sales to South Korea.

 

Italy – the European country hardest hit by the virus – was the destination for about £600 million of UK food exports in 2019, but it was the origin of more than £3bn in food imports into the UK.

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