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Italy’s 2021 growth prospects improve as virus eases

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The Italian flag waves in front of The “Altare della Patria” also known as “Vittoriano” downtown Rome, Italy, March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Italy’s statistics agency on Friday upgraded its economic growth forecast for this year, pointing to a faster-than-expected recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

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Istat predicted growth of 4.7 percent in the eurozone’s third largest economy in 2021, up from the 4.0 percent growth forecast last December, and 4.4 percent in 2022.

The government, for its part, has forecast growth of 4.5 percent in 2021 and 4.8 percent in 2022.

The country’s economy grew slightly in the first quarter, Istat said Tuesday as it reversed a previous estimate of a contraction in the first three months of the year.

On Friday, Istat said it expected economic activity to intensify in the coming months, driven by domestic demand, and extend into 2022.

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It said the government’s 222-billion-euro post-virus recovery plan, funded in large part by European Union loans and grants, “should provide a more intense stimulus”.

Italy was the first European nation to be hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and remains among the worst affected, both in health terms and economically, with GDP slumping by a staggering 8.9 percent last year.

However, infection rates are falling and the vaccination campaign is well underway, resulting in the lifting of many coronavirus restrictions.

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