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French economy now seen contracting by 11% in 2020 – Le Maire

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire

The French economy is now expected to contract by 11 per cent in 2020, compared with an earlier forecast for a 10 per cent contraction, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told radio on Friday.

However, Le Maire reiterated he hoped France could get back to having decent economic growth figures by 2021.

“From 2021, we will be capable of being able to find once again growth figures, which will be good growth figures,” he told France Inter radio.

“In the fourth quarter, we risk seeing a negative growth rate,” Le Maire said in a Friday morning radio interview.

“But I am sure that the French economy will see a strong rebound in 2021.” The growth will return to 2019 levels in the course of 2022, the minister added.

Le Maire said the renewed contraction was not a surprise as it came after many leading economies were pushed into unprecedented recession by the worldwide lockdowns earlier in the pandemic.

The risk of negative growth at the year-end had been factored into the government’s overall forecast for a contraction in gross domestic product for the whole of 2020, he explained.

Le Maire said this week that the total cost of French financial support for companies during lockdown will be 15 billion euros (13.6 billion pounds) for each month of lockdown. The lockdown is due to last until Dec. 1, but could be extended.

On Thursday, Jean Castex, the prime minister, said that curfews initially planned for nine cities including Paris would be extended to cover as many as 54 different departments across the country, affecting 46 million people in all.

At the same time, Castex also announced that economic support packages for struggling businesses would similarly be extended.

France’s new national lockdown – imposed to try and curb a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic – is set to hit the economy as many shops and businesses have to close up again, as they did during an earlier lockdown back in March.

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