ISTANBUL

The gross domestic product is expected to shrink 8.7% in 2020 in the eurozone due to the pandemic, the president of the European Central Bank said on Thursday.

Compared to the previous projection, the GDP growth was revised by 9.5 percentage points, Christine Lagarde said in an online meeting.

The GDP is also expected to rebound 5.2% in 2021, and 3.3% in 2020, she added.

“There has been an abrupt drop in economic activity as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the measures to contain it,” she noted, adding: “Severe job and income losses and exceptionally elevated uncertainty about the economic outlook have led to a significant fall in consumer spending and investment.”

The bank’s governing council decided to raise the envelope for the pandemic emergency purchase program (PEPP) by €600 billion to a total of €1.35 trillion ($1.51 trillion), Lagarde said.

“Second, we decided to extend the horizon for net purchases under the PEPP to at least the end of June 2021. In any case, we will conduct net asset purchases under the PEPP until the Governing Council judges that the coronavirus crisis phase is over,” she stressed.

She also reminded that the bank kept interest rates unchanged on Thursday.

“Regarding fiscal policies, an ambitious and coordinated fiscal stance remains critical, in view of the sharp contraction in the euro area economy,” added Lagarde.

The coronavirus, which first appeared in China last December, has spread to 188 countries and regions across the world, while Europe and the US economies were affected most.

The virus has killed over 386,600 people worldwide, with total infections exceeding 6.54 million and more than 2.83 million people having recovered from the disease, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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