UK economy to slump 9.8% in 2020 on virus – IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday, October 13, forecast that the recession-wracked British economy will shrink by almost 10% this year on coronavirus fallout.

A contraction in gross domestic product of 9.8% would however be an improvement on the previous IMF forecast of 10.2%, the Fund added.

The UK economy is predicted to grow by 5.9% in 2021, down from prior guidance of 6.3%, according to the Fund's latest World Economic Outlook.

Britain, like many countries, is grappling with a renewed rise in COVID-19 infections, rolling out fresh social-distancing restrictions that are hampering economic recovery.

Recent official data showed that the UK economy shrank in the 2nd quarter by almost a fifth – more than any European neighbor.

Britain's nationwide lockdown, imposed on March 23 for about 3 months, plunged the country into its deepest recession on record.

Bank of England (BoE) Governor Andrew Bailey told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that UK economic output in the 3rd quarter from July to September was between 9% and 10% below its level at the end of last year.

He noted that this represented a "massive shortfall" by historical standards, and that therefore the recovery "will take time."

The outlook could meanwhile darken further if Britain and the European Union (EU) fail to strike a post-Brexit trade deal, with fresh talks due this Thursday and Friday, October 15 and 16, in Brussels.

The IMF noted on Tuesday that a failure to forge a trade deal by December 31 "would increase business costs and could disrupt long-standing cross-border production arrangements."

The BoE has long cautioned that the outlook remains linked to the nature of the country's future trading position with the EU.

Britain officially left the bloc on January 31 but remains under EU rules until the end of the year as both sides try to thrash out terms of a new relationship. –