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World economy forecast to slow in 2019 amid trade tensions

/ 09:16 PM January 21, 2019
World economy forecast to slow in 2019 amid trade tensions

An armed Swiss police officer stands guard on the roof of a hotel near the congress center where the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum  take place in in Davos on Jan. 21, 2019.  AP

DAVOS, Switzerland — The International Monetary Fund has cut its forecast for world economic growth this year, citing heightened trade tensions and rising US interest rates.

The IMF said Monday that it expects global growth this year of 3.5 percent, down from 3.7 percent in 2018 and from the 3.7 percent it had forecast for 2019 back in October.

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Unveiling its forecasts at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the fund left its prediction for US growth this year unchanged at 2.5 percent. But it trimmed the growth outlook for the 19 countries that use the euro currency to 1.6 percent from 1.8 percent.

Growth in emerging-market countries is forecast to slow to 4.5 percent from 4.6 percent in 2018. The IMF expects the Chinese economy — the world’s second biggest — to grow 6.2 percent this year, down from 6.6 percent in 2018 and slowest since 1990.

The World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have also downgraded their world growth forecasts.

Rising trade tensions pose a major risk to the world economy. Under President Donald Trump the United States has imposed import taxes on steel, aluminum and hundreds of Chinese products, drawing retaliation from China and other US trading partners.

“Higher trade uncertainty will further dampen investment and disrupt global supply chains,” said IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath.

Rising interest rates in the U.S. and elsewhere are also pinching emerging-market governments and companies that borrowed heavily when rates were ultra-low in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 Great Recession.

As the debts roll over, those borrowers have to refinance at higher rates. A rising dollar is also making things harder for emerging-market borrowers who took out loans denominated in the US currency. /ee

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TAGS: business news, Davos, international news, Switzerland, world economic forum, World economy
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