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Sunday, 16 April, 2000, 05:15 GMT 06:15 UK
G7 'bright' on global economy
G7 ministers
G7 ministers: Sense of optimism
By the BBC's Andrew Walker in Washington

Finance Ministers from the G7 group of leading developed countries say the prospects for world economic growth continue to brighten.

But in a statement after a meeting in Washington, the G7 said there was a need for continued vigilance and further action to promote more balanced and more sustainable growth.

A general sense that prospects for expansion in industrial countries and the world economy would generally continue to brighten

US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers

They also discussed the recent sharp falls in the price of shares in new technology companies - but if the dramatic decline did alarm the G7 Finance Ministers, they tried hard not to let it show.

Indeed there was no explicit mention in the statement.

It did note in general terms the importance of new technology in raising economic growth rates but that had no direct implications for the stock markets.

Focus on improvements

A few days ago the International Monetary Fund published a report which identified the high level of technology and bio-technology share prices in the United States as posing a risk of a sharp economic slowdown.

But in their statement, the G7 focused on the improvements in the economic situation which were also noted by the IMF.

United States Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said: "There was a general sense around the room that prospects for expansion in industrial countries and the world economy would generally continue to brighten.

"The underlying fundamentals of the expansion of the major economies have strengthened since our last meeting. Nonetheless, it's important that we remain vigilant."

A need that was underlined by events last week in the stock markets.

Concern over Japan

Among the G7's own members, Japan barely qualifies for inclusion in the optimistic assessment of the outlook - it slipped back into recession in the second half of last year.

It is true there have been signs of improvement since then but it is not obvious how durable they will be.

And the G7 themselves said that Japan had not yet achieved a secure recovery and needed to continue its economic reforms.

The ministers also met Russian officials and urged them to take action on important economic challenges, such as creating an impartial rule of law and secure property rights.

And they had a lot to say about reforms of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

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See also:

13 Apr 00 | Business
$1,000bn wiped off US stocks
14 Apr 00 | Business
A crash or a 'correction'?
15 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
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14 Apr 00 | Business
Has the bubble burst?
17 Mar 00 | Business
Rollercoaster week for stocks
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