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    RUSSIAN GDP GROWTH TO SLOW DOWN TO 5.5% IN 2004

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    GENEVA, FEBRUARY 24 (RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT YEKATERINA ANDRIANOVA) - The economic growth in Russia will slow down in 2004 against the background of a more moderate development of the oil sector and will total 5.5 percent on the average. This information was disclosed in the report of the UN Economic Commission for Europe published on Tuesday. (The commission experts estimate the 2003 Russian GDP growth at 7.3 percent).

    Nevertheless, the CIS and East European countries will remain the commission's most dynamically developing region. According to the Commission's forecast the GDP growth in the CIS countries will make up 5.7 percent this year and the economic growth in Eastern Europe - 4.5 percent.

    On the whole, the restoration of the world economy will continue in 2004 with the USA being the driving force. The EEC expects the GDP growth in the United States to reach 4.6 percent in 2004 compared to 3.1 percent last year.

    At the same time, the USA will be the main factor of risk in the short-term prospect, says the first issue of the Review of Economic Situation in Europe for 2004, prepared by the EEC. Already now, the deficit of the current US account makes up the record five percent of the GDP, which, added to the considerable budget deficit, can lead to the further weakening of the dollar exchange rate in the world markets.

    According to the commission forecasts, the European zone's economy will grow in 2004 by 1.9 percent against 0.5 percent in 2003.

    The first issue of the Review was prepared for the 59th EEC annual session scheduled for February 24-26 in the Geneva Palace of Nations.

    The Economic Commission for Europe is one of the five regional UN commissions, founded in 1947 by the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

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