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Sunday, 18 November, 2001, 16:39 GMT
World Bank faces 'great challenges'
Canadian Parliament building
Canada is playing host to the meetings
David Schepp

The 11 September terror attacks have taken a toll on the world's economies, and the poorest nations are feeling the brunt of the impact, the World Bank has said in advance of its Sunday meeting.

A lack of resources and the inability of lesser-developed countries to absorb the shocks of the worldwide slowdown threaten to further erode the fragile economies.

Graffiti outside Canadian Parliament buildings
Protests have been mild but vocal - and visible
"Millions in the developing world will be denied opportunities that could lift them out of extreme poverty, and progress in such areas as health and reducing infant mortality is threatened," the World Bank said.

Topics such as the economic impact of the terror attacks, which levelled the World Trade Center in New York and damaged the Pentagon outside Washington, have been at the heart of a weekend meeting of finance ministers in Ottawa, Canada's capital.

Africa most vulnerable

African countries have been severely affected by tumbling prices for commodities, such as oil, grains and precious metals, the World Bank said in a written statement.

"We look to the Bank to work closely with African leaders as they develop a framework for economic recovery and longer-term growth," the bank said.

But countries that rely on tourism, such as the islands of the Caribbean, have also been severely affected by the attacks, as holiday makers postpone travel plans due to heightened fears over air travel.

The attacks on New York and Washington, where hijackers drove airliners into the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killed nearly 4,600 people.

Those attacks have sent economic ripples through the world economy and have caused the World Bank's sister organisation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to revise its growth estimates for nations' economies around the globe.

Pushing ahead

Following the events of 11 September, the World Bank said it stands ready to do more to help the vulnerable economies of the world and to what it can to stem financing of terrorist activities.

Putting forth a plan to thwart money laundering and abuses of worldwide financial systems for use in terrorist and other illegal activities has been the main thrust of all three meetings being held in Ottawa this weekend.

In previous meetings, the Group of 20 (G-20) nations and a specialised committee of the IMF, announced that members have unanimously supported cutting off financing for international terrorist organisations.

As announced by UK Chancellor Gordon Brown, the measures also include setting up special units to track suspicious transactions and publishing lists of groups whose assets have been frozen.

In making its goals known on Sunday, the World Bank also renewed its push to help developing countries obtain financing, while stressing the rule of law and sound economic policies are the cornerstone to sustained economic development.

Another building block is education, and the World Bank said it is moving ahead with its Education for All (EFA) initiative, which has the goal of having each child complete a primary education and removing gender disparities in education.

See also:

18 Nov 01 | Business
US recession raises global fears
18 Nov 01 | Business
IMF backs terror funds crackdown
17 Nov 01 | Business
Wealthy nations target terrorists
17 Nov 01 | Business
Trade key to wealth, banker says
13 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Terror laws at-a-glance
08 Nov 01 | Business
More suspected terror funds seized
15 Nov 01 | Business
IMF and World Bank focus on downturn
08 Nov 01 | Middle East
Gulf crackdown on terror cash
12 Nov 01 | Americas
UN renews anti-terror drive
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