By Emeka Anaeto, Emma Ujah and Peter Egwuatu in Washington DC
…warns US-China trade tension will impact crude oil prices
The International Monetary Fund, IMF, has effected an upwards review of Nigeria’s economic growth rate projection to 2.1 percent, a second review by the Bretton Woods institution on the forecast this year alone. Earlier in January it had reviewed the statistics downwards to 2.0 percent from initial figure of 2.3 percent referencing challenges in the international oil prices. But oil prices have been stabilizing since February this year.
The positive forecast was also made against the backdrop of similar upwards review on the oil producers and other sub-Sahara Africa economies in 2019 to 2.0 percent (from 1.3 percent in 2018) and 3.5 percent (from 3.0 percent in 2018) respectively. These were contained in the 2019 “World Economic Outlook”, report of the IMF released yesterday at the ongoing 2019 Spring World Bank /IMF meeting in Washington DC, United States of America, USA.
But in a near conflicting position, the Chief Economist & Director of Research, IMF, Gita Gopinath, at a press briefing on the report also yesterday said: “ Nigeria is likely going to experience a weakening in economic growth in the year 2019 following continued weakness of the global expansion.”
She also stated that IMF has projected a further 3.7 percent expansion for the Sub Saharan Africa region in 2020 while that of Nigeria was projected at 2.5 percent.
Trade tension could crash oil prices
However, Gopinath said that a continued trade tension between the US and China would have a negative impact on oil prices and other commodities.
Responding to a question on the impact of the trade tension on Sub-Saharan Africa, the IMF Chief stated: “A continued trade tension between the US and China would further weaken the global economy and this will in turn have a negative impact on prices of commodities, including oil.
“With this weakness expected to persist into the first half of 2019, our new World Economic Outlook (WEO) projects a slowdown in growth in 2019 for 70 percent of the world economy. Global growth softened to 3.6 percent in 2018 and is projected to decline further to 3.3 percent in 2019. The downward revision in growth of 0.2 percentage points for 2019 from the January projection is also broad based.”
Commenting on emerging markets, Gopinath said: “ Emerging markets have experienced some resumption in portfolio flows, a decline in sovereign borrowing costs, and a strengthening of their currencies relative to the US dollar. While the improvement in financial markets has been rapid, those in the real economy have been slow to materialize. Measures of industrial production and investment remain weak for now in many advanced and emerging market economies, and global trade has yet to recover.
“With improved prospects for the second half of 2019, global growth in 2020 is projected to return to 3.6 percent. This recovery is precarious and predicated on a rebound in emerging market and developing economies, where growth is projected to increase from 4.4 percent in 2019 to 4.8 percent in 2020. Specifically, it relies on an expected rebound in growth in Argentina and Turkey and some improvement in a set of other stressed developing economies, and is therefore subject to considerable uncertainty. Growth in advanced economies will slow slightly in 2020, despite a partial recovery in the euro area, as the impact of US fiscal stimulus fades and growth tends toward the modest potential for the group, given aging trends and low productivity growth.”
Global growth Beyond 2020
She said: “Beyond 2020, global growth is expected to stabilize at around 3½ percent, bolstered mainly by growth in China and India and their increasing weights in world income. Growth in emerging market and developing economies will stabilize at 5 percent, though with considerable variance as emerging Asia continues to grow faster than other regions. A similar pattern holds for low-income countries with some, particularly commodity importers, growing rapidly but others falling further behind the advanced world in per capita terms.
Risks to global growth
“While the global economy continues to grow at a reasonable rate and a global recession is not in the baseline projections, there are many downside risks. Tensions in trade policy could flare up again and play out in other areas (such as the auto industry), with large disruptions to global supply chains. Growth in systemic economies such as the euro area and China may surprise on the downside, and the risks surrounding Brexit remain heightened. A deterioration in market sentiment could rapidly tighten financing conditions in an environment of large private and public sector debt in many countries, including sovereign-bank doom loop risks” she said.
IMF’s Policy recommendations
According to her: “Given these risks, it is imperative that costly policy mistakes are avoided. Policymakers need to work cooperatively to help ensure that policy uncertainty doesn’t weaken investment. Fiscal policy will need to manage trade-offs between supporting demand, protecting social spending, and ensuring that public debt remains on a sustainable path, with the optimal mix depending on country-specific circumstances. Financial sector policies must address vulnerabilities proactively by deploying macro prudential tools (such as counter-cyclical capital buffers)a task made more urgent by the possibility that interest rates will remain low for longer. Monetary policy should remain data dependent, be well communicated, and ensure that inflation expectations remain anchored.
“Across all economies, the imperative is to take actions that boost potential output, improve inclusiveness, and strengthen resilience. There is a need for greater multilateral cooperation to resolve trade conflicts, to address climate change and risks from cybersecurity, and to improve the effectiveness of international taxation. This is a delicate moment for the global economy. If the downside risks do not materialize and the policy support put in place is effective, global growth should rebound. If, however, any of the major risks materialize, then the expected recoveries in stressed economies, export-dependent economies, and highly-indebted economies may be derailed. In that case, policymakers will need to adjust. Depending on circumstances, this may require synchronized though country-specific fiscal stimulus across economies, complemented by accommodative monetary policy. Lastly, adequate resources for multilateral institutions remain essential to retain an effective global safety net, which would help stabilize the global economy.”
“These are crucial opportunities to solve debt crises in a fair, speedy and sustainable manner.
“The IMF needs to do more to ensure that their programmes do no more harm to the poor. When a crisis strikes, IMF loans are often the last resort for affected countries.
“But they come with harsh austerity and adjustment conditions attached. The IMF conditionality review that takes place while the Spring Meetings are on-going should be used to ensure that IMF programmes respect democracy and human rights.
“We also call on the IMF to conduct Human Tights Impact Assessment of all its programmes.”