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UNCTAD: More Needed to Get World Economy Moving - 2002-04-29


A United Nations report says consumers in the United States kept the world economy afloat in 2001. But the report issued Monday by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says it will take much more than consumer spending for a strong recovery to take place this year.

The UNCTAD report says the world economy has defied predictions of a deep recession following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. But it says the United States alone will not be able to get the world economy moving.

The report says the economies of all the major industrialized countries will have to improve in order for the recovery to gain impetus and for the economies of developing countries to grow.

A chief economist of UNCTAD, Yilmaz Akyuz, says the recession in the United States was much milder than most people expected, primarily because U.S. consumers kept on spending. But Mr. Akyuz said European countries have taken little action to stimulate their economies, and this has hindered the recovery. "Europe, although they have taken action on some fronts, still depends in large part for its recovery on the external environment, snd it is not giving much stimulus to global demand," he added.

The report says growth in the world economy slowed sharply last year, falling to 1.3 percent from 3.8 percent in 2000. This led to weak performances in all three leading economic regions in the developed world.

It says the spillover effects on developing countries were much stronger than in previous downturns in the 1990s. It says only China and India were largely immune from the downward pressure of world markets. It says Africa remained stable, but at too low a growth rate. Mr. Akyuz says Japan and Argentina remain vulnerable countries and a threat to economic stability.

Meanwhile, UNCTAD's secretary-general, Rubens Ricupero, says the economies of developing countries would be greatly helped if they had more access to markets around the world, adding, "There is much to be said in favor of the utilization of trade as an important tool to promote growth and development." Mr. Ricupero says, for the sake of developing countries, the multilateral trading system must become more wide-ranging.