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World's Richest Nations Meet in Paris to Discuss Global Economic Growth - 2003-04-28


With a largely disappointing short-term economic forecast to discuss, finance and trade ministers from the world's richest countries are to meet Tuesday in Paris.

The two-day ministerial meeting follows a mediocre global report card from the OECD, which last week predicted economies of many member countries will continue to struggle this year, before picking up steam. Overall, the organization downgraded its economic-growth forecast for industrialized nations to 1.9 percent in 2003, from its previous 2.2 percent assessment.

Ministers from the 30 industrialized countries that belong to the Paris organization will gather Tuesday and Wednesday to talk about the factors limiting growth, along with other economic issues.

The organization believes several factors are dragging down short-term economic growth, including fears of higher oil prices and terrorist attacks, along with the possible impact of a new form of pneumonia, known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

The OECD based its forecast on a fairly rapid victory of coalition forces in Iraq, but the group said resolving the Iraqi crisis was not enough to jump-start many faltering world economies.

For example, the group predicts the 12-nation euro-currency zone will grow only one percent this year and 2.4 percent in 2004. The organization faulted some members of the European currency zone, such as France, for high budget deficits and for slowness in implementing needed economic reforms. The French government has faced mounting domestic criticism in recent weeks, for plans to overhaul its pension system.

But other countries face a brighter economic assessment. The OECD predicted a relatively robust five percent growth for Russia this year, for example. And the organization says the United States is expected to grow only 2.5 percent this year, but will then speed up to four percent for 2004.

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