London, 20 November 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) today said in an annual report that almost all Central and Eastern European economies will grow this year, for the third consecutive year. The EBRD, which monitors economic development in 27 countries in the region, is forecasting an average growth in gross domestic product of 4.3 percent in 2001 -- down from a record 5.5 percent in 2000.
The report by the London-based EBRD said the stagnating global economy and falling oil prices are the main reasons why it is forecasting growth to drop to 3.4 percent in 2002.
The EBRD said the countries most likely to join the European Union by 2004 are the most vulnerable to the global economic slowdown, while members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will be least affected by the downturn.
But the EBRD said oil-rich CIS members -- particularly Russia -- will be harder hit if declining oil prices fall below $18 per barrel.
The only country included in the EBRD forecast to record negative growth this year was Macedonia, whose economy has contracted dramatically as a result of the past year's ongoing ethnic conflict.