By Babajide Komolafe
International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday announced a downward review of its growth forecast for Nigeria’s economy to 2.0 percent for 2019 citing decline in crude oil prices.
The IMF made this announcement in its World Economic Outlook, WEO, January update released yesterday, projecting that global economic growth will weaken to 3.5 percent this year due to the negative impact of the trade war between United States and China.
The 2.0 percent forecast for Nigeria in 2019 is three percentage points lower than the 2.3 percent forecast by IMF in its World Economic Outlook, October 2018. The Fund also revised downward its 2020 growth forecast for Nigeria to 2.2 percent. The 2.0 percent growth forecast for 2019 is lower than the forecast released last week by some the nation’s investment firms and banks. Last week, FSDH Merchant Bank projected 2.48 percent economic growth for the country in 2019, while Coronation Merchant Bank and Afrinvest Limited projected 2.25 percent and 2.5 percent growth respectively.
Forecast for Sub-Saharan Africa and crude oil
The IMF also downgraded its growth forecast for Sub-Saharan Africa to 3.5 percent in 2019 and 3.6 percent in 2020, citing impact of softening oil prices on the economies Nigeria and Angola.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, growth is expected to pick up from 2.9 percent in 2018 to 3.5 percent in 2019, and 3.6 percent in 2020. For both years the projection is 0.3 percentage point lower than last October’s projection, as softening oil prices have caused downward revisions for Angola and Nigeria. The headline numbers for the region mask significant variation in performance, with over one-third of sub-Saharan economies expected to grow above 5 percent in 2019–20.”
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The IMF equally revised downward its forecast for average crude oil price in 2019 to $60 per barrel citing fears of softening global demand.
“Crude oil prices have been volatile since August, reflecting supply influences, including US policy on Iranian oil exports and, more recently, fears of softening global demand. As of early January, crude oil prices stood at around $55 a barrel, and markets expected prices to remain broadly at that level over the next 4–5 years.
“Average oil prices are projected at just below $60 per barrel in 2019 and 2020 (down from about $69 and $66, respectively, in the last WEO). Metals prices are expected to decrease 7.4 percent year-over-year in 2019 (a deeper decline than anticipated last October), and to remain roughly unchanged in 2020. Price forecasts for most major agricultural commodities have been revised modestly downwards”, the IMF said.
Global economy to grow at 3.5%
The IMF projected 3.7 percent growth for the global economic in 2018 but said this growth will weaken to 3.5 percent this year before rising to 3.6 percent in 2020.
Explaining the factors for its forecast, the IMF said: “The global expansion has weakened. Global growth for 2018 is estimated at 3.7 percent, as in the October 2018 World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecast, despite weaker performance in some economies, notably Europe and Asia. The global economy is projected to grow at 3.5 percent in 2019 and 3.6 percent in 2020, 0.2 and 0.1 percentage point below last October’s projections.
“The global growth forecast for 2019 and 2020 had already been revised downward in the last WEO, partly because of the negative effects of tariff increases enacted in the United States and China earlier that year. The further downward revision since October in part reflects carry over from softer momentum in the second half of 2018—including in Germany following the introduction of new automobile fuel emission standards and in Italy where concerns about sovereign and financial risks have weighed on domestic demand—but also weakening financial market sentiment as well as a contraction in Turkey now projected to be deeper than anticipated.
“ Risks to global growth tilt to the downside. An escalation of trade tensions beyond those already incorporated in the forecast remains a key source of risk to the outlook. Financial conditions have already tightened since the fall. A range of triggers beyond escalating trade tensions could spark a further deterioration in risk sentiment with adverse growth implications, especially given the high levels of public and private debt. These potential triggers include a “no-deal” withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union and a greater-than-envisaged slowdown in China.
“The baseline forecast incorporates the US tariffs announced through September 2018 and retaliatory measures. For the United States, these include tariffs on solar panels, washing machines, aluminium, and steel announced in the first half of 2018; a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of imports from China, and a 10 percent tariff on an additional $200 billion of imports from China, with the latter rising to 25 percent after the current 90-day “truce” ends on March 1, 2019. For China, the forecast incorporates tariffs ranging from 5 to 10 percent on $60 billion of imports from the United States.
“The main shared policy priority is for countries to resolve cooperatively and quickly their trade disagreements and the resulting policy uncertainty, rather than raising harmful barriers further and destabilizing an already slowing global economy. Across all economies, measures to boost potential output growth, enhance inclusiveness, and strengthen fiscal and financial buffers in an environment of high debt burdens and tighter financial conditions are imperatives”.
Regional Growth forecast
The IMF stated: “Specifically, growth in advanced economies is projected to slow from an estimated 2.3 percent in 2018 to 2.0 percent in 2019 and 1.7 percent in 2020. This estimated growth rate for 2018 and the projection for 2019 are 0.1 percentage point lower than in the October 2018 WEO, mostly due to downward revisions for the euro area.
“Growth in the euro area is set to moderate from 1.8 percent in 2018 to 1.6 percent in 2019 (0.3 lower than projected last fall) and 1.7 percent in 2020. Growth rates have been marked down for many economies, notably Germany (due to soft private consumption, weak industrial production following the introduction of revised auto emission standards, and subdued foreign demand); Italy (due to weak domestic demand and higher borrowing costs as sovereign yields remain elevated); and France (due to the negative impact of street protests and industrial action).
“There is substantial uncertainty around the baseline projection of about 1.5 percent growth in the United Kingdom in 2019-20. The unchanged projection relative to the October 2018 WEO reflects the offsetting negative effect of prolonged uncertainty about the Brexit outcome and the positive impact from fiscal stimulus announced in the 2019 budget. This baseline projection assumes that a Brexit deal is reached in 2019 and that the UK transitions gradually to the new regime. However, as of mid-January, the shape that Brexit will ultimately take remains highly uncertain.
“The growth forecast for the United States also remains unchanged. Growth is expected to decline to 2.5 percent in 2019 and soften further to 1.8 percent in 2020 with the unwinding of fiscal stimulus and as the federal funds rate temporarily overshoots the neutral rate of interest. Nevertheless, the projected pace of expansion is above the US economy’s estimated potential growth rate in both years. Strong domestic demand growth will support rising imports and contribute to a widening of the US current account deficit.
“Japan’s economy is set to grow by 1.1 percent in 2019 (0.2 percentage point higher than in the October WEO). This revision mainly reflects additional fiscal support to the economy this year, including measures to mitigate the effects of the planned consumption tax rate increase in October 2019. Growth is projected to moderate to 0.5 percent in 2020 (0.2 percentage point higher than in the October 2018 WEO) following the implementation of the mitigating measures.”
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