OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on Tuesday expressed concern about the continuing European debt crisis and the potential for the U.S. economy to sharply contract at the start of next year.
Flaherty, who has frequently urged the European Union to quickly tackle its problems, said the “major and immediate threat facing the world” was the European sovereign and banking crisis.
He told a meeting of business executives in Ottawa that the euro area economy was unlikely to see a sharp rebound in the third quarter.
“Today, the euro area is essentially in recession,” he said in the text of his speech, noting with approval that the European Central Bank had recently announced plans to support European sovereign debt markets.
“We continue to wait for intentions to become actions. European leaders must continue to make progress on fiscal and banking unions and encourage vulnerable countries to reform,” he said.
Canada’s economy is heavily reliant on the United States, where $600 billion in spending reductions and expiring tax cuts will kick in at the start of 2013 unless a deal is struck to shrink the U.S. budget deficit.
“The U.S. needs to reduce its fiscal deficit over time. This point is clear. But it also needs to ensure that there is policy certainty in the short-term so that markets and investors can be confident that its economic growth will not be interrupted,” said Flaherty.
“Though, at present, global recovery is extremely weak in some sectors, I am hopeful that the major difficulties will be resolved and the global recovery will strengthen.”
The finance minister said although the Canadian economy had outstripped those of most other developed nations since the economic recession, “we would like to see more progress”.
He also called on private sector businesses to invest more to help grow the economy.
Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson