March 3, 2020 / 1:55 PM / a month ago

G7 to employ 'all appropriate tools' to combat coronavirus risks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - G7 finance ministers and central bank governors said on Tuesday they would use all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong, sustainable growth and safeguard against risks from the coronavirus outbreak, which has fueled global recession fears.

In a joint statement issued after a conference call, they said Group of Seven (G7) finance ministers were ready to take actions, including fiscal measures where appropriate, while central banks would continue to work to support price stability and economic growth.

They said they stood ready to cooperate further on “timely and effective measures,” but stopped short of calling for new government spending or coordinated central bank interest rate cuts.

The coronavirus outbreak is dragging the world economy into its worst downturn since the global financial crisis, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned on Monday, urging governments and central banks to fight back to avoid an even steeper slump.

“Given the potential impacts of COVID-19 on global growth, we reaffirm our commitment to use all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong, sustainable growth and safeguard against downside risks,” the statement from the G7 countries - the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan - said.

They also welcomed the commitment by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other international institutions to help member countries address the human tragedy and economic challenge posed by COVID-19, the medical acronym for the disease.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell led the call, reflecting a sharp rise in concern since Feb. 22, when the officials discussed the coronavirus outbreak in person on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but did not issue a statement.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Heather Timmons and Alexander Smith

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