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Russia Economy Expected To Grow

April 20, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia’s economy is expected to grow 4.5 percent this year, a spectacular improvement after years of decline, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday, citing an Economics Ministry report.

Although the Russian economy is about half the size it was a decade ago, high oil prices and the decision by creditors to forgive some of Russia’s debt are causing a steady rise of the country’s economic indicators.

The government reported an overall budget surplus of 0.7 percent of the gross domestic product in the first quarter of the year, industrial output is up, annual inflation is in single digits, and the Central Bank’s foreign-currency reserves rose to a 21-month high of $16.3 billion in mid-April.

Speaking to a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Putin said the gross domestic product may grow 4.5 percent this year, to nearly $245 billion, while inflation would total 10 percent, the Interfax news agency reported.

``By domestic Russian standards of recent years, this is not just steady, but tremendous growth,″ Putin said.

The Economics Ministry also forecast economic growth of 5 percent next year, and 6 percent in 2002.

The Russian economy contracted most of the last decade, posting only anemic growth of 0.8 percent in 1997, before the country succumbed to the world crisis in developing markets.

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