Congo’s economy to shrink 2.2% because of coronavirus – IMF

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The coronavirus pandemic will cause Democratic Republic of Congo’s economy to contract 2.2% this year, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday, as its executive board approved $363 million in financing for the country.

The IMF said it was slashing its previous growth forecast of 3.2% because of the fall in prices for key exports such as copper and the impact of containment and mitigation measures against the coronavirus.

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IMF country representative Philippe Egoumé said in a media briefing that growth could rebound in 2021 to 3.5% if the virus is contained.

“But if it becomes a much bigger epidemic then all bets are off,” he said.

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The IMF said in a statement late on Wednesday that its executive board had approved the $363 million disbursement under its Rapid Credit Facility.

The coronavirus outbreak has infected 377 people and killed 25 in Congo, which is also struggling to end a nearly two-year Ebola outbreak in the east.

Reporting by Joe Bavier and Hereward Holland; Editing by Aaron Ross and David Clarke

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