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Pandemic's global economic impact unlikely to worsen, Qatar commerce minister says

FILE PHOTO: Qatar’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari speaks during the third annual U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue at the State Department in Washington, U.S., September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott/Pool

DUBAI (Reuters) - The global economy is unlikely to worsen due to the coronavirus pandemic even as countries face a second wave of infections, Qatar’s commerce minister said on Monday, forecasting a recovery somewhere between a ‘U’ and ‘V’ shape.

Over 29 million people have been infected worldwide by the virus and close to a million people have died. Governments have kept people home and shuttered businesses under strict restrictions to curb the virus from spreading.

“I think we have already seen the (economic) impact (of the pandemic). Is it going to get worse? I don’t think so,” Commerce and Industry Minister Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari told Reuters by phone.

“It’s a different world today than ... when the pandemic started,” he said.

Governments were better prepared today than when the virus broke out, having invested in boosting their health sectors and their economies, he said.

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the world economy, with economic output crashing and financial markets initially plunging as restrictions curtailed travel, leisure and social life.

A wave of new infections from Australia to Israel has brought renewed uncertainty as to when the global economy will recover from a virus that has seen many industries grind to a near-halt.

Kuwari said he expected the recovery to be faster than a gradual rebound but slower than a sharp uptick, though cautioned it would depend on when a vaccine for the virus could be found.

“I think we’re going to be looking at something between a ‘V’ and ‘U’ -shaped recovery,” he said.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Lincoln Feast

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