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Italy’s 2020 growth may be cut if coronavirus effect is significant: economy minister

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s 2020 growth forecast may be revised down if there is a significant impact from the coronavirus outbreak, Italy’s Economy Minister said on Wednesday.

“The 0.6% (GDP growth for 2020) could be revised down if the coronavirus will have a significant impact and if there is a stronger than expected drag effect of the 2019 GDP decline over the current year,” Roberto Gualtieri said on Wednesday in a interview with Radio Capital.

Earlier this month Bank of Italy’s governor Ignazio Visco said the virus could have a temporary negative effect on growth of “a few decimal of a percentage point”, but that a more significant impact could not be ruled out.

Italy’s economy – the euro zone’s third largest – unexpectedly contracted by 0.3% between October and December.

The parliamentary budget watchdog (UPB) said last week it expects GDP to grow just 0.2% in 2020, far below its previous 0.5% forecast and the 0.6% rate officially targeted by the government in September.

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte, writing by Giselda Vagnoni)