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Asia and Pacific economies grow nearly 6 per cent in 2002-2003, UN says

Asia and Pacific economies grow nearly 6 per cent in 2002-2003, UN says

With group growth averaging nearly 6 per cent in 2002 and 2003, the economies of the developing countries in Asia and the Pacific grew faster than those of other developing country groups and faster than the global economy itself, according to a United Nations report released today.

China’s economy, with its gross domestic product (GDP) expanding by just under a quarter between 2001 and 2003, plays a leading role as group growth is increasingly driven by intra-regional trade and domestic demand, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) says.

China is now the fourth-largest trading nation in the world and helps to stimulate output growth across a broad regional front.

“From a regional perspective, growth was broad-based, with all sub-regions but one experiencing higher growth, and was not affected significantly by the war in Iraq and the SARS crisis,” ESCAP says in a 16-page summary of the report, “The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2004.

Growth in ESCAP developing countries shows not only an impressive turnaround after the global 2001 slowdown, but also indicates that the process is becoming less dependent on global economic trends.

India, the largest economy in South and southwest Asia, improved its GDP growth rate in 2003 to 7.5 percentage points, more than 3 per cent over the 2002 rate of 4.3 in 2002. The rate is projected to ease in 2004 to a still respectable 6 per cent.

On the other hand, several of the Pacific island economies have been running fiscal deficits and are dependent on aid.

“The existence of inefficient state-owned firms and poor governance aggravates the fiscal problem significantly, while the shortage of public resources has meant chronic underinvestment in physical infrastructure, especially communications, a critical necessity given the physical remoteness and vulnerability to natural disasters of the island economies,” ESCAP says.

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