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OECD warns Omicron variant could be a 'threat to economic recovery'

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By Euronews  with Reuters
Official figures show that consumer prices across the 19 countries that use the euro currency are rising at a record rate.
Official figures show that consumer prices across the 19 countries that use the euro currency are rising at a record rate.   -   Copyright  Martin Meissner / AP   -  

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) urged countries to speed up the pace of vaccine distribution to curb the pandemic, pointing to the "threat to economic recovery" of the Omicron variant.

The Paris-based organisation stressed that global recovery is becoming increasingly imbalanced with continued uncertainty over the emergence of new variants.

"The economic priority is the vaccine," said the OECD, warning that the recovery from last year's post-pandemic slump is running out of steam.

Global growth is set to hit 5.6% this year before moderating to 4.5% in 2022 and 3.2% in 2023, the organisation noted in its latest economic outlook.

With the global economy rebounding strongly, the post-pandemic increase in consumer demand has led to bottlenecks in global supply chains, pushing up prices and creating inflation.

The renewed inflationary pressures risk lasting longer than what was expected a few months ago, with rising food and energy prices hitting low-income households in particular.

But the OECD assured the spike will fade as demand and production return to normal.

"The main risk, however, is that inflation continues to surprise on the upside, forcing the major central banks to tighten monetary policy earlier and to a greater extent than projected," the OECD said.

Against that backdrop, the best thing central banks can do is wait for supply tensions to ease and signal they will act if necessary, the organisation declared.

In the United States, the OECD forecast the world's biggest economy would grow 5.6% this year, 3.7% in 2022, and 2.4% in 2023, down from previous projections of 6.0% in 2021 and 3.9% in 2022.

The outlook for China was also less optimistic, with a growth forecast at 8.1% in 2021 and 5.1% in both 2022 and 2023 whereas previously the OECD had expected 8.5% in 2021 and 5.8% in 2022.

However, the outlook was slightly more upbeat for the eurozone than previously expected with growth expected at 5.2% in 2021, 4.3% in 2022, and 2.5% in 2023 compared with previous forecasts of 5.3% in 2021 and 4.6% 2022.