Turkey confident of continuing growth

Turkey said on Monday its gross national product grew 7.4 percent in the first quarter of 2003 compared to the same period last year, as the crisis-hit country made headway with an IMF-backed recovery plan.

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    Gross domestic product, meanwhile, grew by 8.1 percent, the state statistics institute, OECD, announced.
    Turkey is aiming for a five-percent growth in 2003.
    Gross national product grew by 7.8 percent in 2002 as the economy began to emerge from one of its worst ever recessions, following severe financial turmoil in 2001, with the help of a 16-billion-dollar IMF austerity programme.
    The OECD said in April that growth was expected to weaken both this year and next, mainly because of high interest rates and economic fallout from the war in neighbouring Iraq.
    But Ankara has insisted that its five-percent target is realistic, maintaining that the war's impact has been minimal.

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    It was only last year, for instance, that the OECD, one of the best respected economic research bodies, forecast economic growth in Turkey of less than 2% last year.

    Search the archives for 2000 and you will find many analysts praising Turkey as an economic miracle, as its output revived and inflation and interest rates dropped sharply.

    That was before the currency and banking crisis which hit late in the year.

    Status quo

    Crucial to the increased confidence and continued growth predictions has been the acceptance by the AKP ruling party of the bulk of the terms of a $16 billion loan package, agreed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the 2000-2001 crisis.
    Faith of foreign investors in the country has been maintained as repayments of the IMF loan have been made on time, underpinning Turkey's recent recovery, according to the ODEC.

    This at a time when, even if it has been snubbed over joining the EU by the Italian minister for Europe, Turkey faces the prospect of a doubling in financial support from Brussels as part of a membership preparation package.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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