Bank of Japan chief says coronavirus impact likely biggest topic at G-20 meeting this weekend

TOKYO (REUTERS) – The impact of the new coronavirus outbreak on global growth will be a key issue at this weekend’s meeting of G-20 finance leaders, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said, underscoring growing concern over the fallout from the epidemic.

Kuroda said it was not yet time to discuss whether additional monetary easing was needed to prevent the virus outbreak from damaging Japan’s economic recovery.

But the BOJ stood ready to take additional steps “without hesitation” as needed, he told lawmakers on Friday (Feb 21) before departing for the Group of 20 finance gathering in Riyadh that kicks off on Saturday.

“The biggest topic on the agenda at this weekend’s G20 meeting will probably be how the coronavirus will affect the global economy. I’d like to fully exchange information and opinions there.”

Kuroda said Japan’s economy is likely to continue a moderate expansion as temporary factors such as a pullback in demand after an Oct 1 sales tax hike, typhoon and warm winter taper off.

But he warned that the new virus poses a major uncertainty to the economic outlook by hurting China-bound exports, output and inbound tourism.

The virus has killed more than 2,200 people in mainland China and its fallout has paralysed the world’s second-biggest economy, which has in turn disrupted trade, supply chains and Chinese tourism.

Kuroda and Finance Minister Taro Aso are scheduled to attend the meeting on Feb 22-23, in Riyadh.

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