IMF lowers growth outlook for commodity exporters

Gold PixThe International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its 2015 growth forecasts for commodity exporters, saying the projected growth rebound for commodity-exporting developing countries will be weaker than had been forecast in the fund’s October World Economic Outlook (WEO).

The WEO update, released on January 20, reduced the 2015 projection for sub-Saharan Africa by 0.9 of a percentage point to 4.9 per cent for 2015 and by 0.8 of a percentage point to 5.2 per cent for 2016.

Lower oil and commodity prices, the IMF said, would impact the terms of trade and real incomes of commodity exporters and would also “take a heavier toll on medium-term growth”.

“Lower oil and commodity prices also explain the weaker growth forecast for sub-Saharan Africa,” the WEO Update stated.

Ghana is one of the world’s top producers of cocoa and gold, making the growing of cocoa and mining of gold crucial to Ghana’s current economic health. Besides, current oil production accounts for about 10 per cent of the country’s total exports.

In its recently published Global Economic Prospects (GEP) report, the World Bank warned that a further decline in the already depressed price of metals — parti-cularly iron-ore,  gold  and  copper — would severely affect a large number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The GEP went on to describe lower growth in emerging economies, to which sub-Saharan African countries export, especially  China, as a major external risk.

China consumes almost a quarter of global energy output and a half of global metal supply, but as its economy has slowed prices of metals such as copper, iron-ore and nickel have fallen to more than 30 per cent below their 2011 highs.

The WEO Update reduced  China’s 2015 growth projection to 6.8 per cent from 7.1 per cent in October.

The IMF’s global growth forecast, meanwhile, was lowered by 0.3 of a percentage point to 3.5 per cent, notwithstanding a likely overall boost from lower oil prices for a number of oil-importing countries.

It also lowered its 2016 forecast to 3.7 per cent, reflecting a reassessment of prospects in  China,  Russia, the Euro area and Japan as well as weaker activity in some major oil exporters.

The 2015 growth outlook for the US, however, was increased to 3.6 per cent.

IMF Economic Counsellor and Director of Research, Olivier Blan-chard  described lower oil  prices and the depreciation of the euro and the Yen as new factors supporting growth.

However, he warned that these had been more than offset by persistent negative forces, including the lingering legacies of the crisis and lower potential growth in many countries.

“This makes for a complicated mosaic,” Blanchard said. It was “good news for oil importers, bad news for oil exporters. Good news for commodity importers, bad news for exporters. Continuing struggles for the countries which show scars of the crisis, and not so for others. Good news for countries more linked to the euro and the yen, bad news for those more linked to the dollar”.

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