Eurogroup chief says Covid-19 ‘temporary’ drag on economy

Portugal’s Finance Minister and Eurogroup President Mario Centeno attends a eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium February 11, 2019. — Reuters pic
Portugal’s Finance Minister and Eurogroup President Mario Centeno attends a eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium February 11, 2019. — Reuters pic

BRUSSELS, Feb 17 — Eurogroup chief Mario Centeno today said the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak on the European economy would be short-lived despite its big impact on China.

“We expect it to be a temporary effect,” said the Portuguese finance minister who also chairs the monthly meetings of his eurozone counterparts.

“We must be concerned with that, but we also need to look at the more long term prospects of growth for the euro area and those look good at this stage,” he told reporters in Brussels.

Italian Finance Mininster Roberto Gualtieri urged for caution in assessing the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak in Europe, saying “it’s too early” to know.

“We are prudent in our estimations of the disease in China and if that impact will be limited to some decimals of GDP for China, so very limited impact and for Europe, or if it will be bigger,” Gualtieri said as he arrived for talks.

Last week the European Commission maintained its eurozone growth forecast at 1.2 per cent for 2020, but warned the new Covid-19 outbreak could yet hit the economy.

The EU’s executive said that the outbreak was a new threat to growth in Europe, but expected it would peak in the first quarter. — AFP

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