Chinese official warns of grim global economic outlook

SHANGHAI – China’s commerce minister said Saturday the outlook for the global economy remains grim despite its gradual recovery from the impact of the financial crisis.

Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng’s comments underscored growing concerns about the global economy, which have deepened since the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, raising fears of a global recession.

“In the past few years through our shared hard work, the global economy emerged from its previous low and is developing in a good direction,” Gao said. But at the same time, “the deep effects of the global financial crisis can still be felt.”

Gao did not mention Brexit in his opening remarks at a meeting of trade ministers in Shanghai on Saturday held in the run-up to China’s hosting of the G20 summit later this year. He said governments should work together to find ways to revitalize growth.

“The revival and growth of the global economy is still lacking in strength,” Gao said. “Low levels of global trade and investment have not recovered to their pre-financial crisis levels.”

Last month, the World Bank cut its forecast for the global economy this year, predicting it will expand 2.4 per cent, down from the 2.9 per cent it expected in January. Low commodity prices continue to vex many developing countries whose economies depend on exports of those commodities. And advanced economies are still struggling to gain momentum as they contend with aging workforces and lacklustre productivity growth.

Meanwhile, China faces pressure to shrink bloated industries including steel, which its trading partners complain is flooding their markets with unfairly cheap exports, hurting their producers and threatening jobs.