ECONOMY

Christodoulakis meets G7

The two biggest obstacles to economic growth currently are the lack of confidence on the part of investors and the threat of a war in Iraq which can send oil prices much higher, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said in Washington on Saturday. He was speaking in his capacity as current chairman of the Eurogroup – the eurozone’s finance ministers – at a joint press conference with European Central Bank Governor Wim Duisenberg and EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pedro Solbes after the G7 (seven wealthiest nations) finance ministers’ meeting with central bank governors. The general view emerging from the summit was that the global economy will start recovering in 2003. Christodoulakis said the adverse effects of a possible intervention in Iraq were not insurmountable, citing the example of the Gulf War in 1991, whose impact was relatively quickly overcome. Interviewed on CNN, Christodoulakis said that compared to its EU partners, Greece’s high growth rates – estimated to approach 4 percent this year – indicated the dynamism of its economy and were due to a spate of big infrastructure projects in view of the Olympic Games of 2004, the deregulation of key sectors in the economy in recent years and to an acceleration of foreign investment. Commenting on the impact of the introduction of the European common currency and the resulting phenomena of price rises, Christodoulakis said this was a transient problem of adaptation after which the eurozone would reap the full benefits of the euro. Referring to the plenary session of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank which started in Washington yesterday, he said he would like to see better cooperation between industrial nations and greater understanding for the needs of the less developed countries. In its latest estimates, the IMF forecasts 3.7-percent growth for Greece in 2002 and 3.2 percent for 2003. The Greek government’s projection is 4.1 percent for next year.