March 24, 2020 / 3:09 PM / 11 days ago

Italy economy minister sees steep GDP contraction in H1

ROME, March 24 (Reuters) - Italian Economy Minister Roberto Gualteri said on Tuesday the country's economy would shrink sharply in the first half of this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

"The Treasury estimates there will be a major contraction of gross domestic product in the first half of 2020," Gualtieri told parliament.

He added that over the whole of this year his ministry expects GDP to fall by "a few percentage points".

After a steep drop in March, the Treasury sees "continued difficulty in April and only a gradual improvement in the following months," Gualtieri said.

Economic activity in Italy has been severely disrupted over recent weeks by a lockdown imposed by the government to try to halt the coronavirus outbreak which came to light on Feb. 21. (Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte, writing by Gavin Jones, editing by Giulia Segreti)

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