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Economic outlook positive in Asia-Pacific, though high food and fuel prices pose challenge: UN report

05-06-2011 09:14 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, May 5 (Xinhua) -- The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) released a report here on Thursday that indicates continued strong economic growth in the region, but underscores the challenges that increasing fuel and food prices have created, especially in the region's least developed countries (LDCs).

"I must say that ESCAP has estimated that the high food prices in 2010 have already led to 19 million people remaining in poverty in 2010 and if this continues also in 2011, the estimate is that 42 million people will also remain in poverty due to these high food prices," Amr Nour, director of the New York office of ESCAP, told reporters at a press conference here regarding the report's release.

"But there are also other challenges like the oil prices which could reduce the growth of countries up to 1 percent in 2011 as well," Nour said.

ESCAP is a regional forum that works on spurring inclusive economic and social progress in Asia and the Pacific. Its flagship annual report, the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific, provides a look at developments in the region and makes recommendations for the future.

Nour said that the Asia-Pacific region is projected to grow by 7.3 percent in 2010, which is less than last year's 8.8 percent but still impressive.

"Its growth rate will be nearly one and a half times more than that of any other region," Nour said.

Despite growth, Nour stressed the importance of combating rising food prices that affect the LDCs particularly strongly. He said that ESCAP has proposed many recommendations in the 2011 report for how to ameliorate the situation.

"ESCAP is proposing to act on several levels really to address those challenges and to combat the price rises. Some of the policies are at the national, others are at the regional, and some are at the global level," Nour said.

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