Coronavirus wipes $50 billion off global exports in February

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(Washington DC) – The extent of the damage to the global economy caused by novel coronavirus COVID-19 moved further into focus as UN economists announced a likely US$50 billion drop in worldwide manufacturing exports in February alone.

In remarks made at a joint press conference with the head of the World Bank Group, the IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, said that the UN-backed global funds would make up the shortfall, in effect, by offering to inject around $50 billion into low-income and emerging market nations, pending requests for support.

“Thanks to the generosity of our shareholders, we have about $1 trillion in overall lending capacity”, she said. “For low-income countries, we have rapid-disbursing emergency financing of up to $10 billion (50 percent of quota of eligible members) that can be accessed without a full-fledged IMF programme.”

The IMF chief added that members can access emergency financing through the Rapid Financing Instrument. “This facility could provide about $40 billion for emerging markets that could potentially approach us for financial support. We also have the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust – the CCRT – which provides eligible countries with up-front grants for relief on IMF debt service falling due.

“The CCRT proved to be effective during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, but is now underfunded with just over $200 million available against possible needs of over $1 billion,” added Georgieva.

She called on member countries “to help ensure that this facility is fully re-charged and ready for the current crisis”, and said that the Fund was “fully committed to supporting our member countries, particularly the most vulnerable. We have the tools to help and we are coordinating closely with our partner institutions.”

Preliminary economic data analysed by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, in Geneva, indicate that virus containment measures in China – where the outbreak emerged in late December – have already caused a “substantial decline in output”.