UK to be second weakest performer of world’s big economies next year – OECD warns

Paris-based organisation highlights UK’s bleak economic outlook and hits out at government’s energy support
The UK economy is set to be the worst performer in the G20 bar Russia over the next two years, the OECD said on Tuesday, underlining the lasting impact of high energy prices on Europe as a whole.
The OECD said in its latest economic forecasts that UK GDP would fall by 0.4 per cent in 2023 and rise by a mere 0.2 per cent in 2024.That would be a longer and deeper downturn even than the forecast for Germany, whose manufacturing intensive economy is particularly vulnerable to high energy prices.
In an apparent reference to Brexit, Álvaro Santos Pereira, the OECD’s acting chief economistsaid the economic adjustment under way in the UK had compounded longstanding concerns about the country’s low productivity growth.
He singled out Britain’s need to forge post-Brexit commercial relations with the rest of the world, with“trade deals that you need to export and so on high on the agenda”.

The UK will be the second weakest performer of the world’s big economies next year as the global economy continues to suffer the knock-on effects of the biggest energy shock in four decades, a leading international institution has warned.

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said only Russia of the members of the G20 group of leading developed and developing nations would suffer a bigger contraction than Britain in 2023.

In its half-yearly economic outlook, the OECD said the UK economy would expand by 4.4% this year – the sixth fastest in the G20 – but contract by 0.4% next year.

Although most countries have had their growth forecasts cut by the OECD since June, only Russia’s 5.6% contraction is forecast to be more severe than Britain’s. The poor performance is forecast to continue in 2024 with expansion of 0.2% – the joint weakest alongside Russia.

The OECD’s acting chief economist, Álvaro Pereira, said he was expecting a less severe downturn next year than the 1.4% decline pencilled in by the Office for Budget Responsibility in last week’s autumn statement, but a more subdued recovery in 2024 than the OBR had pencilled in.

Pereira said the OECD thought interest rates would peak at a lower level than the OBR was anticipating, and that the UK would suffer a four-quarter recession ending in the middle of 2023.

Overall, the OECD expects growth across its 38 rich-country members to be 0.8% in 2023 – half the level expected six months ago. The US and the eurozone are forecast to expand by 0.5%, but growth is expected to be stronger in three big Asian economies – China (4.6%), Indonesia (4.7%) and India (5.7%).

Of the three biggest EU economies, Germany is forecast to be the third worst-performing G20 country (-0.3%), while Italy (0.2%) and France (0.6%) are likely to post modest growth, according to the OECD.

Pereira said: “The global economy is reeling from the largest energy crisis since the 1970s. The energy shock has pushed up inflation to levels not experienced for many decades and is lowering economic growth all around the world.

“Higher inflation and lower growth are the hefty price that the global economy is paying for Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Although prices were already creeping up due to the rapid rebound from the pandemic and related supply chain constraints, inflation soared and became much more pervasive around the world following Russia’s invasion.”

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