Non-Crisis Economies Must Make Adjustments Too

UN Chronicle, Fall 1999 | Go to article overview

Non-Crisis Economies Must Make Adjustments Too


The brunt of the world economic slow-down had been borne by the developing and transition economies, according to The World Economy in 1999, a United Nations report prepared by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). At a press briefing on 1 July, UnderSecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Nitin Desai described the period 1998-1999 as a lost biennium for development in Asia and a period of lost momentum in Africa and Latin America; in 2000, Asian economies affected by the financial crisis would resume growth from their 1997 position. Financial markets had stabilized and there were clear signs of recovery in Asia, but weakness continued in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and Latin America.

According to the report, 39 developing countries had gross domestic product (GDP) per capita growth exceeding 3 per cent in 1996, compared to just 13 in 1999; 32 developing countries would suffer a decline in GDP per capita next year as against just 14in 1996. The world was undergoing a period of slow growth, at just 2 per cent in 1998 and 1999; only continued growth in North America and Europe had kept the world economy going, whilejapan had remained in recession. Continued slow growth was expected for next year. Although the economies of North America and Europe had maintained their growth, trade volume had only grown by 3.5 per cent and the value of trade had actually declined in 1998. The picture would be even worse if one looked at the developing countries in terms of income rather than output due to fallen commodity prices. And net transfer of financial resources from developing countries was almost $60 billion in 1998, compared to positive flows of about $35 billion in the first half of the 1990s. Mr. Desai said the picture for the developing world was distorted by the fact that the two largest developing countries-India and China-had not experienced a slow-down.

Without them, the developing-country total figures looked extremely bleak. The slow-down had stopped signs of revival of growth seen in sub-Saharan Africa during the early 1990s and in the CIS countries in the mid-1990s at a time when those countries had put extensive policy reforms in place. …

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