China’s growth forecast drops below 2% amid pandemic

BEIJING (AA): The Chinese economy may grow less than 2% in 2020 due to the novel coronavirus, the U.S.-based credit rating agency Fitch said on Thursday.

A World Bank forecast last January had projected the country to achieve a 5.9% growth this year after four years of growing by more than 6%.

“China’s economy is recovering gradually, but we expect activity to remain weak through the first half of the year, and for full-year growth to dip below 2% in 2020, from 6.1% in 2019,” Fitch said.

The negative forecast stemmed from uncertainty, including potential weakness in external demand.

It said the pandemic affected monetary policies, such as liquidity injections, and cutting reserve requirement ratios.

“The government has also announced around 1.3 trillion Chinese yuan ($184.1 billion or 1.2% of GDP) in fiscal measures, including increased healthcare spending, various tax relief measures, and more rapid disbursements of unemployment insurance,” it added.

Since the virus emerged last December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, it has spread to at least 184 countries and regions, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

There are nearly 1.5 million confirmed infections worldwide and almost 90,000 deaths. Over 332,400 have recovered.