PARIS: The “alarming” outlook for emerging countries hit by collapsing oil prices is more worrying than China’s economic slowdown, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said Wednesday.

“We are much more worried about the prospects for emerging countries outside of China, and in particular raw material producing countries”, than the Asian giant’s economic woes, leading S&P economist Jean-Michel Six told a news conference.

He said falling oil prices that had been a “blessing” for consumers in developed nations had now turned into “bad news” for the world economy.

And he highlighted the risks of falling oil prices that have now slumped close to $30 a barrel for “the growth and geopolitical prospects in the emerging countries” heavily dependent on commodity prices and especially oil.

“We are in a zone of uncertainty and weakness which is becoming alarming, “Six, who is chief economist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told reporters.

Brazil is an “extremely serious” case after falling into recession last year, the S&P official warned, pointing to the multi-faceted impact on it from US monetary policy, China, commodity prices as well as its economic policy and governance.

China, on the other hand, where concern about its economy has rattled global markets since New Year, is less worrying, he indicated.

He said a slowdown in an economy in the throes of transitioning from export-led investment to a domestic consumer focus is welcome. “It would be desirable for the Chinese authorities to abandon the seven per cent (of GDP) target (for growth),” he added.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2016

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