EBRD Expresses Optimism over Eurozone Debt Crisis


The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development expressed optimism on Monday that the worst of the eurozone debt crisis was over, but trimmed its 2013 growth forecast for the ex-Soviet bloc.

The EBRD cut the growth forecast for the countries where it operates to 3.1 percent this year, the London-based institution announced in its latest economic outlook.

That compared with the previous estimate in October of 3.2 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

"Downside risks to the outlook have continued to recede as the likelihood of further deterioration of the eurozone crisis diminishes," the EBRD said in the report.

"Growth in the transition region continued to slow down in the third quarter of 2012, but the deceleration is showing signs of bottoming out."

The economies in the EBRD's investment zone shrank by 2.6 percent last year, hit by fallout from the long-running eurozone sovereign debt crisis, after impressive expansion of 4.6 percent in 2011.

"For the first time in a long while we are now seeing the possibility of a reduction in the risks facing emerging Europe, especially the risks from the eurozone," said EBRD chief economist Erik Berglof.

"It is too early to sound the all-clear but there are signs of stabilization," Berglof added.

The EBRD was formed in 1991 to help former Soviet bloc countries switch to a market economy, and invests alongside private-sector firms.

It agreed earlier last year to expand its reach into emerging Arab democracies.

In May, it approved the pumping of one billion euros ($1.2 billion) into nations in the Middle East and North Africa region, at the lender's annual meeting.

At the same time, the group appointed its first British president, veteran civil servant Suma Chakrabarti.

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