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IMF Predicts Better Economic Growth Next Year


The International Monetary Fund, on the eve of its semi-annual meeting in Dubai, says the world's economy is showing signs of recovery. Asia-Pacific countries will have the world's fastest growing economies this year, and possibly next, but the chief of the International Monetary Fund, Kenneth Rogoff, says, for the moment, most Europeans will have to wait.

In its World Economic Outlook, the IMF says there is reason for optimism the world's economy is returning to normal growth, or perhaps even better. Factors included a quick end to the Iraq war, the economic stimulus of historically low U.S. interest rates and a slow, but steady, recovery in stock markets.

In its semi-annual report, the IMF is forecasting world economic growth at 3.2 percent for 2003 and 4.1 percent for next year. The growth rate for Asian countries is expected to average 7.4 percent for this year and slightly better in 2004.

But the IMF says in Europe the picture is not quite as bright. While suggesting there are signs of economic recovery, the IMF says there are few indications of a dramatic improvement for the 12-nation euro zone, noting the continent's weakened economic condition as the result of recessions in Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.

In Britain, which is not part of the European common currency zone, the IMF said economic conditions have improved and the growth rate this year is likely to reach 1.7 percent.

The IMF says a global recovery will pick up mainly in the second half of 2004 and will be led by the United States.

But despite the overall upbeat forecast, IMF policymakers warned that the world's economy still faces risks, and urged policymakers to maintain accommodative monetary policies. The IMF also warned policymakers to prepare for the effects of a possible further decline in the value of the U.S. dollar.

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