World Bank projects 2.2% GDP growth for Nigeria in 2019

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…As Iran vows to reciprocate EU sanctions***

Nigeria’s real GDP growth will expand by 2.2 per cent in 2019, the World Bank said in its annual Global Economic Prospects published on Wednesday, contrary to an earlier projection of 2.1 per cent growth rate indicated in June 2018.

“Per capita growth is forecast to remain well below the long-term average in many countries, yielding little progress in poverty reduction”, the World Bank highlighted also, showing that growth in Sub-Saharan Africa would accelerate to 3.4 per cent in 2019, as a result of improved investment in large economies together with continued robust growth in non-resource intensive countries.

“Growth in Nigeria is expected to rise to 2.2 per cent in 2019, assuming that oil production will recover and a slow improvement in private demand will constrain growth in the non-oil industrial sector.

“Angola is forecast to grow 2.9 per cent in 2019 as the oil sector recovers as new oil fields come on stream and as reforms bolster the business environment.

“South Africa is projected to accelerate modestly to a 1.3 per cent pace, amid constraints on domestic demand and limited government spending,” the bank said.

On the risk to the region’s growth, the World Bank stated that escalated trade tensions between the United States and China could impact negatively on the region.

“Faster than-expected normalisation of advanced-economy monetary policy could result in sharp reductions in capital inflows, higher financing costs and abrupt exchange-rate depreciation.

“Increased reliance on foreign currency borrowing has heightened refinancing and interest rate risk in debtor countries,” the noted.
It said domestic risks, in particular, remained elevated, that political uncertainty and a concurrent weakening of economic reforms could continue to weigh on the economic outlook in many countries.

“In countries like Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa holding elections in 2019, domestic political considerations could undermine the commitments needed to rein in fiscal deficits, especially where public debt levels are high and rising.

The Bank downgraded global economic growth from 3 per cent in 2018 to 2.9 per cent in 2019 due to trade tensions, rising borrowing costs and persistent policy uncertainties.  

Meanwhile Iran on Wednesday vowed to reciprocate after the EU added two Iranian individuals and an Iranian intelligence unit to the bloc’s terrorist list.

EU ministers agreed on Tuesday to add the names to the list and freeze their assets, effective from Wednesday.

The Netherlands accused Iran of two killings on its soil and joined France and Denmark in alleging Tehran plotted other attacks in Europe.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi called the EU’s actions “illogical” and “surprising”.

“Iran will adopt the necessary measures in response to this move and within the framework of reciprocation,” Qassemi said in a statement published on the ministry’s official website.

Iran has denied any involvement in the alleged plots, saying the accusations were intended to damage EU-Iran relations.

“These listings have been adopted by the Council as part of its response to recent foiled attacks on the European soil,” the European Council said in a statement on Wednesday.

Qassemi, in his statement, accused the EU of supporting “terrorist groups” such as the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO), a group that seeks to overthrow the Iranian government.

The move is in part symbolic since one of the men is in prison in Belgium.

The incident marked the first time the EU has enacted sanctions on Iran since lifting a host of curbs on it three years ago following its 2015 nuclear pact with world powers.