The world’s economy contracted for the first time on record in the first quarter as the coronavirus continues to halt business and work. Gross domestic product (GDP) fell 6.8 percent in January-March year-on-year, a slightly larger decline than the 6.5 percent forecast by analysts and reversing a 6 percent expansion in the fourth quarter of 2019.
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It was the first contraction in the world’s second-largest economy since at least 1992, when official quarterly GDP records were first published.
China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced on Friday morning in Beijing that the country’s economic output shrank 6.8 percent from January through March compared to the same period last year.
The data reflects China’s dramatic efforts to stamp out the coronavirus, which included shutting down most factories and offices in January and February as the outbreak sickened tens of thousands of people.
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CHINA’s half a century long period of economic growth has been halted by the coronavirus pandemic. (Image: PA)
This is the first time China has recorded a contraction in growth since 1976, as the country begins to see a drop in cases. (Image: PA)
Mao Shengyong, spokesperson at the statistics bureau, said there would be “short-term economic costs” but added: “We cannot say that the fundamentals of China’s long-term economic progress have changed because of a short-term shock.”
In 2019, China already posted its slowest growth in almost 30 years.
Over the last month, Chinese authorities have pushed to get the paralysed economy restarted with businesses and factories re-opening.
The Chinese government has also introduced policies to help households and companies.
Despite this the pandemic and attempts to contain it have sharply cut the world’s appetite for China’s goods, which could lead to factory shutdowns and worker furloughs.
Industrial production fell by 1.1 percent in March compared to a year ago. (Image: PA)
Industrial production fell by 1.1 percent in March compared to a year ago.
Retail sales fell 15.8 percent due to closures and stay-at-home measures.
Investment in fixed assets was down 16.1 percent compared with the same period last year.
China has eased up on its most drastic measures against the epidemic, but many remains in place amid fears of reinfection.
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It comes as China has been under fire from world leaders for it’s lack of transparency over the virus.
Dominic Raab, the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister, said that the country should not expect “business as usual” after the pandemic passes.
“I think there absolutely needs to be a very, very deep dive after the event review of the lessons – including of the outbreak of the virus – and I don’t think we can flinch from that at all, it needs to be driven by the science.
“There is no doubt we can’t have business as usual after this crisis, and we will have to ask the hard questions about how it came about and how it couldn’t have been stopped earlier.”
It comes as China has been under fire from world leaders for it’s lack of transparency over the virus. (Image: PA)
China has begun to lift it’s lockdown after reporting a drop in cases.
It has so far seen 82,341 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
As of Friday morning, the number of deaths in the country were 3,342.
Scepticism remains over their reported figures, considering worldwide cases have reached 2,182,058.