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WTO:  World Economy Improving, But Slowly


The World Trade Organization says the world economy is improving, but only very slowly, by about one percent a year.

The World Trade Organization says trade activity increased in the first half of the year especially in the United States and among high-tech producing countries in Asia, like China and Korea. But imports into the United States and the European Union were down by six percent compared to last year. Both China and Russia, however, managed to increase their imports by 10 and seven percent respectively.

Michael Finger, director of the organization's economic research division, says there is some good news for developing countries. Many of them, he says, have increased their share of world trade over the past ten years. But Mr. Finger adds that only a few developing countries, including China, Korea and Mexico, are major trading partners with the industrialized and developing world. He says China's economy is doing especially well.

"The strongest positive driving force in South-South trade is the growth at the moment of China's imports. China is now an important market for many developing countries," he said.

But Mr. Finger says many economies in other parts of the world have yet to show any signs of rebounding. He says that the economic crisis in Argentina has been felt in neighboring countries and contributed to stagnation of output in South and Latin America.

While the World Trade Organization predicts there will be a stronger growth in demand in North America in the second half of the year, it says the economies in Western Europe and Japan will continue to lag behind.