Bluer Sky for Third World

THE World Bank said it saw many developing countries marching to a faster economic beat in the years ahead, but warned that others needed to speed up economic reforms.

``The international economic environment [for developing countries] could improve markedly in the coming decade,'' the bank said in a report to a joint International Monetary Fund/World Bank Development Committee meeting April 26.

World trade is set to increase $200 billion to $300 billion annually following the recent Uruguay Round agreement to open markets. Commodity prices should rise after a decade of declines, helping many developing countries that are big producers.

East Asian nations - stellar performers in recent years - are projected to chalk up substantial economic gains, the bank said.

Latin American countries will experience modestly faster growth. Middle East nations will be held back by low prices for oil, their major export. But the worst performer is again likely to be sub-Saharan Africa, where per capita income will only grow slowly, if at all, the report said. Many African nations import food and will be hurt by the higher prices resulting from the trade pact.

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