Global Markets: “Growth outlook for commodity exporters lowered,” IMF says

IMF Managing Director Olivier Blanchard
IMF Managing Director Olivier Blanchard

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its 2015 growth forecasts for commodity exporters, including South Africa, 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, lowered South Africa’s 2015 gross domestic product (GDP) projection to 2.1% from 2.3% in October, which was in line with the IMF’s 2014 Article IV Staff Report on South Africa released in December. The fund decreased its 2016 GDP growth projection for South Africaby 0.3 of a percentage point to 2.5%.

The 2015 projection for sub-Saharan Africa, meanwhile, was reduced by 0.9 of a percentage point to 4.9% for 2015 and by 0.8 of a percentage point to 5.2% 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 forsub-Saharan Africa, including a more subdued outlook for Nigeria and South Africa,” the WEO Update states.

In its recently published Global Economic Prospects (GEP) report, the World Bank warned that a further decline in the already depressed price of metals – particularly 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 globalmetal supply, but as its economy has slowed prices of metals such as copper,iron-ore and nickel have fallen to more than 30% below their 2011 highs.

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

The IMF’s global growth forecast, meanwhile, was lowered by 0.3 of a percentage point to 3.5%, notwithstanding a likely overall boost from lower oilprices for a number of oil-importing countries. It also lowered its 2016 forecast to 3.7%, 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%.

IMF economic counsellor and director of research Olivier Blanchard describedlower 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”.(By Miningweekly)

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