German econ forecasts solid as long as coronavirus contained: Altmaier

FILE PHOTO: Germany's Altmaier hosts informal EU energy ministers meeting in Berlin
FILE PHOTO: German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier arrives for a joint welcome statement with European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson (not pictured) prior a virtual meeting of European energy ministers in Berlin, Germany, October 6, 2020. Michael Sohn/Pool via REUTERS

October 18, 2020

BERLIN (Reuters) – The German government is unlikely to make significant changes to its autumn economic forecasts, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Sunday, while cautioning that a failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic could spell trouble.

Berlin currently expects gross domestic product to shrink in 2020 by 5.8% before rebounding by 4.4% next year.

But, Altmaier told ARD public television, “that of course assumes we will bring the pandemic under control, that we break the rapid increase in infections, and we succeed in returning to the situation we had from May to August.”

Although less hard hit than much of Europe, Germany has experienced a second wave of infection, with the daily total hitting a record 7,830 on Saturday.

Echoing a call by Chancellor Angela Merkel on Germans to cut social contacts and travel to slow infection, Altmaier said people need to make greater efforts to curb the pandemic so that schools, kindergartens and businesses can stay open.

“If we don’t get the numbers down, then we are going to face bigger problems,” Altmaier told ARD’s weekly Report from Berlin current affairs show.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)