G7 will deploy all policy tools to fight the coronavirus

TOKYO: Financial officers of the Group of Seven said on Tuesday that they would use all appropriate political tools to achieve strong and sustainable global growth and safeguard against downside risks posed by rapid expansion.

G7 finance ministers were ready to take action, including fiscal measures when appropriate, to help the response, Japanese finance minister Taro Aso told reporters. Central banks will continue to support price stability and economic growth.

We reaffirm our commitment to take all appropriate political measures to protect the economy from the downside risks posed by the coronavirus, and that we are ready to cooperate further in timely and effective measures, Aso said after a G7 call.

He lacked specific details and said that the desirable political response would vary from country to country.

When asked if all appropriate policy steps would include both monetary and fiscal policies, Aso said: Yes, anything will be included, both monetary and fiscal steps.

The single front of the G7 offset the anxiety over the rapid spread of the coronavirus in dozens of countries and helped the recovery of world stocks and oil prices.

“This is a tug of war between hope and fear. Central banks are giving hope with their potential stimulus, ”said Vasu Menon, senior investment strategist at OCBC Bank Wealth Management.

“The question is what will they do? Monetary policy is already very flexible and interest rates are very low, ”Menon added.

German finance minister Olaf Scholz said the G7 had all the means at its disposal.

If the need arises, we have all the means to counteract a global recession, Scholz said in a statement on Twitter.

Global actions suffered a defeat last week for fear that disruption of supply chains, factory production and global travel caused by the epidemic could hit a world economy that is trying to recover from the trade war between the United States and China.

The coronavirus, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of last year, has spread throughout the world over the past week, and now more new cases appear outside of China than inside.

There are more than 90,000 cases worldwide, with more than 80,000 of them in China, and infections that appear in another 77 countries and territories, with Ukraine being the last country to report its first case.

The death toll in China is 2,943, with more than 75 deaths elsewhere.

Successful containment

New cases in China have been falling sharply, with 125 reported on Tuesday, thanks to aggressive containment measures.

After what critics said was an initially hesitant response, China imposed radical restrictions, including transportation suspensions, sealing communities and extending a Lunar New Year holiday across the country.

Now China is increasingly concerned about the fact that citizens return to the country from new critical points elsewhere. The authorities asked the Chinese abroad on Tuesday to reconsider or minimize their plans to travel home.

All travelers entering Beijing from South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy would have to remain in quarantine for 14 days, a city official said. Shanghai has introduced a similar order.

The most serious outbreak outside of China is in South Korea, where President Moon Jae-in declared war on the virus, ordering additional hospital beds and more masks as cases increased by 600 to almost 5,000. Thirty-four people have died in South Korea.

In the United States, it is now believed that the virus is present in at least four communities in the Pacific Northwest, two in northern California, one in Oregon and one in the state of Washington, and the authorities have to go much more beyond the quarantine of infected. travelers and search for close contacts, which until now had been the answer.

Six people have died in the Seattle outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the USA. UU. They list more than 90 cases in the United States, a large part of them repatriated patients since the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had been quarantined in Japan.

Iran reported that infections increased to 1,501, with 66 deaths, including a senior official.

The death toll in Italy increased to 52 on Monday from 34 the previous day and the total number of confirmed cases in the most affected country in Europe exceeded the 2,000 mark.

Germany reported 31 new infections, bringing its account to 188.