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World Bank, IMF Chiefs Say Growth Likely To Accelerate - 2002-09-29

The meetings of world finance ministers and central bank chiefs in Washington ended Sunday with broad agreement that the global economy does not need to slide into recession and that growth is likely to accelerate over the next 12 months.

The head of the IMF, Horst Koehler, says the meetings were productive and successful. He says participants from over 180 countries are generally of the view that globalization can improve living standards for all. Mr. Koehler says it is the poor countries that often speak most strongly in favor of globalization.

"They don't want less, but they want better globalization," he said. "And we all agree that we must make a conscious, determined effort to invest in better globalization, to make it indeed work for the benefit of all."

Globalization is the constantly expanding trade and investment links among countries, a process greatly accelerated by computers and telecommunications.

The finance officials from the 184 member nations of the IMF called on the organization to develop a set of indicators that can forecast financial crises like the one currently afflicting Argentina.

Work is to begin on a method of debt restructuring that countries in distress could employ to avoid outright default. World Bank President James Wolfensohn says members have created a heavy work program for the two organizations.

"The notion that we should move forward is I think accepted by everybody. That we stop philosophizing and get on with our respective tasks, the tasks both for the developed countries the developing countries," he said. "And that we reach out and try to do a better job of working with civil society."

The Washington meetings were marred but not disrupted by protesters, mostly American college students, who believe the IMF and World Bank perpetuate poverty, a charge vigorously rejected by both organizations.

Next year's IMF meeting will take place in Dubai.