G7, eurozone to discuss coordinated economic response to coronavirus: France

PARIS (AFP) – G7 and eurozone finance ministers will hold conference calls tomorrow to “coordinate their responses” to the impact of the coronavirus on the global economy, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said yesterday.

“We will have that meeting by phone – because you need to avoid travelling too much – for the G7 to coordinate its response,” Le Maire said on France 2 television.

He said a similar meeting of eurozone finance ministers will be also be held tomorrow, adding “there will be coordinated action”.

Le Maire said that the economic impact of the coronavirus on France’s economy will be greater than previous estimates and pledged the government will provide support to companies.

The economic impact from the coronavirus will be “much more significant” than the 0.1 percentage point reduction in annual growth that the finance ministry had forecast two weeks ago, he said.

The French government expects 1.3 per cent growth for this year, while in December the national statistics agency INSEE had forecast a return to 0.2 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2020.

France’s GDP growth slowed to 1.2 per cent in 2019 after a tough fourth quarter that saw output fall by 0.1 per cent amid a crippling transport strike against pension reform.

While the coronavirus has yet to shutter or slow many factories outside of China, it has already hit the travel and tourism sectors and seen companies scale back travel and cancel conventions.

France’s famed Louvre museum, a key attraction in one of the world’s top tourism destinations, closed on Sunday and one of the country’s major annual trade fairs, the Paris Book Fair, due to be held later this month was cancelled.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. PHOTO: AFP