Mon, May 21, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Australia sees EU contraction: Swan


Australia’s federal budget, targeting a return to surplus next fiscal year, is taking a conservative view of Europe’s economic outlook, forecasting a 0.75 percent contraction this year, Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan said.

“Determined, consistent and continuing action will be required by European policymakers to deal with the sovereign debt crisis, get their budgets back on a sustainable footing, and restore growth,” Swan said in his weekly economic note. Australia’s “budget takes a conservative view of Europe’s economic outlook, with the euro area forecast to contract by 0.75 percent in 2012.”

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s minority government, seeking to impress voters as a sound economic manager, this month promised to achieve a surplus of A$1.54 billion (US$1.52 billion) for fiscal 2012-2013, ending four years of deficits. Her Labor Party faces a general election next year.

“Australia is not immune from events in Europe,” Swan said in the note. “But it’s important we don’t lose sight of the fact that our economic credentials are among the strongest in the world: We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the developed world, we have sturdy public finances with very low public debt.”

The economy of the 17-member eurozone will contract 0.3 percent this year, the median forecast of 41 analysts compiled by Bloomberg shows. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Saturday night that turmoil in the financial markets caused by Europe’s debt crisis may last another two years, as G8 leaders prepared to discuss Greece and its impact on the global economy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and fellow European leaders face pressure from their G8 counterparts to do more to quell the crisis after almost US$4 trillion was wiped from global equity markets this month amid speculation that Greece will exit the euro.

Australia, whose biggest trading partner China is driving demand for the nation’s minerals and energy exports, is well equipped to withstand outside shocks as investment in mining projects continues, Swan said.

“We have contained inflation, we have a huge pipeline of mining investment and we have a budget returning to surplus next financial year ahead of every single major advanced economy,” he said.

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