June 10, 2020 / 3:48 AM / a month ago

Mexican economy likely shrank 17% in April, says finance minister

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's Finance Minister Arturo Herrera attends the presentation of the national financial inclusion policy, in the Interactive Museum of Economics (MIDE) in Mexico City, Mexico March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Mexican economy most likely shrunk 17% in April and will probably shrink “a little less” in May, the finance minister told local radio on Tuesday, as officials push a re-opening after more than two months of lockdown.

Latin America’s second-biggest economy contracted 1.2% during the first three months of the year, according to the latest official data.

The January to March slowdown marked the fourth straight quarterly slide in Mexico’s gross domestic product and its most anemic performance in more than a decade.

Finance Minister Arturo Herrera told local broadcaster W Radio that the worst of the coronavirus-led economic slowdown is probably over.

“We have some information that makes us think that the most difficult month was April, as (GDP) will likely have fallen around 17%,” said Herrera, adding that the economy in May will have shrunk “maybe a little less” once official data is released.

The minister noted that the government launched a gradual re-opening of the economy at the beginning of this month, as officially-designated “essential” industries including carmaking, mining and construction have been allowed to restart operations provided safety protocols are followed.

Still, Mexico’s central bank forecasts as much as an 8.8% contraction in 2020.

Private sector analysts paint an even dimmer picture, estimating that the economy will shrink by 10% or more this year.

Reporting by Sharay Angulo and Diego Ore; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Gerry Doyle

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