Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 75

In its annual economic survey published this week, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) reports that while several of the former Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe are experiencing rapid economic growth, industrial output remains well below 1989 levels in Russia and most other former Soviet republics. The Baltic states of Lithuania and Estonia achieved a modest rate of recovery last year, with growth of up to 2.5 percent, but Latvia, shaken by a banking crisis, recorded negative growth of 2.7 percent. In the CIS, output continues to fall, with Russia reporting a 4 percent fall in GDP in 1995.

While this last figure represents an encouraging slowdown in the speed of output decline in Russia, the ECE takes issue with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, all of which have been bullish about the future prospects for Russian GDP growth. The ECE is more doubtful, pointing out that the Russian government itself is predicting negative or at best zero economic growth for this year. The ECE also warns that slow economic growth in Western Europe threatens to undermine hopes for continued high growth in the former Communist countries. (Reuters, April 15; BBC World Service, Financial Times, April 16)

Kremlin to Strengthen Defense Industrial Complex.