World Bank expert sees Japanese economy pick up by end 1998

Apr 29, 1998 02:00 AM

A senior World Bank official recently said he was "fairly optimistic" that the Japanese economy would start to rebound by the end of 1998.
"We expect the Japanese economy to bottom out this year, picking up by the end of the year," said Masahiro Kawai, the World Bank's chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific.
"This will be good for developing economies in the region," he told.
Japan has announced a 16.65 trillion-yen ($ 127 billion) stimulus package of public works projects and tax cuts in an effort to revive the stalled economy.
Kawai was visiting Brussels with Jean-Michel Severino, the World Bank's vice president for East Asia and the Pacific region, to discuss details of a small trust fund for Asia that is to be managed by the Bank.
The fund, to which only a few EU countries have so far said they will contribute, is aimed at providing European technical know-how to the Asian economies to help them restructure their financial systems.
Severino said about $ 40 million have been raised so far, including $ 16 mm from the EU Commission and $ 8.3 mm from Britain and France.
The fund was endorsed at the Asia-Europe summit in London earlier at which EU leaders repeatedly pledged full support for the crisis-hit Asian economies.
In a statement, the World Bank said it has pledged up to $ 16 bn to the East Asia region and awarded about $ 3.5 bn in loans since July 1997. About 70 % of the $ 16 bn comes from Japan, Severino said.
The funds are expected to deal with three aspects of reform.
- First, they will help to restore competitiveness in Asia by encouraging better public investment programs, better vocational training and corporate restructuring, Severino said.
- Secondly, they will be used to provide technical assistance and training to Asians to help restructure the financial sector.
"The funds should allow more European experts to be involved in advising Asian countries," said Severino.
- Thirdly, the funds are meant to deal with the social aspect of the crisis, such as helping Asian governments develop social welfare programs, Severino said.
"Korea, and to a certain extent Malaysia, have already some elements of the social security system," he said, adding that the situation varied greatly from one country to the next.

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