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Former U.S.S.R./Eastern Europe: IMF World Economic Outlook

Washington, 25 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A report released today by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the economic outlook for the nations of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is "generally positive" over the next few years.

However, the World Economic Outlook cautions that there is "considerable uncertainty" in the outlook for long-term economic growth potential for the nations in transition.

The report, updated every six months by the IMF staff, says that growth has now resumed in most of the 28 countries in transition from central planning to market economies and only Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan are expected to suffer further output declines in 1996. However, it says, positive growth is "within reach for these countries" in the year ahead provided they stick with reform and stabilization programs.

"Longer term, however, these nations will have to substantially improve productivity to deal with the relatively unfavorable demographic trends that imply a progressive ageing of their populations and stagnant or even declining labor forces," the IMF says.

The fund also warns that low savings rates in the region will make this situation worse.

For the world as a whole, the outlook says 1996 is shaping up as a good economic year and, despite disappointing performance in Western Europe, the global economic expansion is expected to continue through 1997.