World coffee output expected to grow
World coffee production estimates for 1999-2000 have been revised upward to record high of 113.3m bags and is projected to further increase to 113.7 million bags in 2000-01 due to a recovery in Colombian output though there is a downturn in Central America.
"Coffee production now estimated to be 113.3 million bags in 1999-2000 will increase further to 113.7m bags this year, while the exports could register a 2.25 percent rise to 91 million bags against an import demand of 80.9 million bags during the 2000-01 season," according to the latest report released by Association of Coffee Production Countries (ACPC).
Due to increased outflow from India and Vietnam, robusta exports from Asia rose by 33 percent in 1999-2000 and the pattern will be maintained in the current season, it said.
ACP members were producted to produce about 82m bags in the current season. 72 percent of the world's total coffee projection which was marginally lesser than the 73 percent share in the previous season, the report added.
Consumption is estimated to have grown by 1.4 percent in 2000 though the year had got off to a poor start as consumers built up extra stocks against possible Y2K problems.
Asia, Europe warn of darker world economic outlook
Finance minister from 25 Asian and European nations warned recently that the outlook for the world economy had suddenly darkened because of a slowdown in the United States.
They kept their fingers crossed at their two day meeting in this western Japanese city that it would not inflict deep damage on their economies and looked to Europe to pick up the baton of economic growth.
"What was striking about Kobe was to see the degree of uncertainty about America," said France's Laurent Fabius, referring to the slowdown and the new incoming administration.
In a statement issued after the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), ministers vowed to keep taking measures to make their economies more robust and reduce further their vulnerability to external shocks.
The communiqué, which made no reference to recent exchange rate trends, said long-term growth prospects in Asia and Europe had improved over the past two years, with inflation remaining generally under control.
US economic growth down
US economic growth has plummeted to near zero, strengthening chances for further cuts in interest rates, and backed tax reductions to combat a sustained downturn, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said recently.
President George W. Bush seeking support for a 1.6 trillion dollar tax cut, welcomed Greenspan's comments, but said they stoped short of a full endorsement of his plan.
The US economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the third quater last year, down sharply from 5.6 percent in the second.
Paul Ferley, an economist with Harris Bank/Bank of Montreal, said Greenspan's comments "certainly reinforce in our mind that the Fed is likely to ease aggressively at the end of the month." He put the chances of a half point reduction in the benchmark federal funds rate at 75 to 80 percent.
France the Premier tourist destination in 2000
A record 75 million tourists visited France in 2000, confirming the country's position as the world's premier tourist destination, official figures showed recently.
The number of foreign visitors increased for the fifth year running, up 2.7 percent over the figure for 1999, according to the tourism ministry. From 60 million in 1995, the number of foreign tourists swelled to 70 million in 1998 and 73 million in 1999.
In 2000, France was far ahead of the United States, which hosted 52.7 million foreign tourists in 2000, according to World Tourism Organization figures, and Spain, which received 48.5 million visitors from abroad.
Foreign tourists in France in 2000 spent 215 billion French francs (32.78 billion euros, 30 billion dollars) in France, up 9.3 percent over 1999. At the same time, French tourists who went abroad spent 115 billion francs 5.8 percent more than in 1999.
In terms of its balance of payments, France therefore made 100 billion francs from tourism alone in 2000. 13.5 percent more than the pervious year, and more than it made from its food and drinks exports.
Tourism allowed the creation of 39,000 new jobs in 2000. Tourism Minister Michelle Demessine told AFP that in three years, some 100,000 jobs had been created in the tourism sector.
Yet the industry still faces a serious shortage of labour, with an estimated 100,000 jobs still unfilled, mainly in hotels and restaurants.
Sweden tops IT economy
Sweden has held onto its rank at the top "information economy," while the United States has slipped from second to fourth place, according to a study release recently.
The 2001 ranking by International Data Corp and the World Times new spaper showed Norway rose from the number four spot to number two, while Finland was ranked third.
The Information Society Index (ISI) is based on computer, information, Internet and social infrastructures.
"The Internet had almost 100 million new users in 2000. Because of its importance and growth, we had to increase the weighing of the Internet related ISI component for this year's rankings," said John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC.
The ISI credited Sweden, Singapore, and Australia with the highest Internet infrastructure scores. The United States, meanwhile was 10th in this category.
EU leaders stress on economic goals
Eu leaders, wrapping up two-day economic summit in Stockholm recently sought to fine-tune ambitious economic, financial and social goals aimed at making their economy the world's number one.
Having dispensed with Balkans and foot-and-mouth dilemmas that played havoc with agenda, the heads of state and government returned to the original game plan assessing progress on 10 year targets set in Lisbon a year ago.
A draft of summit conclusions reiterated the EU's overall goal of becoming "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion."
The EU's economy, having improved "considerably" in recent years, is in its fourth year of recovery, with 3.5 percent growth in 2000 and 2.5 million jobs created, more than two-thirds of which were filled by women.
Unemployment, it noted, had fallen to a 10 year low, indicating reform efforts were "paying off."
Despite a world-wide economic slowdown, the EU's economic fundamentals "remain sound", it said.
Prices are stable, interest rates are low and "sound public finances have been restored," said the draft. The union is therefore in a position to rely more on its own strength."
Implementation of reforms and "a balanced macro-economic policy mix should make it possible to continue to achieve growth averaging around three percent over the medium term, side the draft conclusions.
"This is indispensable" for meeting the Lisbon targets of full employment by 2010," it added "This is no time for complacency."
The EU Council agreed on mid-term employment targets of 67 percent overall and 57 percent for women by 2005, and urged member states to set their own employment targets accordingly.
With an wary eye to an inexorably again EU population a growing portion of which would not be working, the council set a target for increasing the employment rate among men and women in the 55-56 age group to 50 percent by 67 by 2010.