According to the UN World Economic Situation and Prospects Update as of mid-2015 report, launched earlier this week, growth of world gross domestic product (GDP) will improve slightly from 2.6 per cent in 2014 to 2.8 per cent in 2015, which is 0.3 percentage points lower than the forecast contained in the January version of the report, with the downward revision reflecting a deterioration in growth prospects of economies in transition and several large developing countries, especially in South America.“The current world economic situation is characterised by five ‘lows’: low growth, low trade flows, low inflation, low investment, and low interest rates, combined with two ‘highs’: high equity prices, and high debt levels,” said Pingfan Hong, Director of the Development Policy and Analysis Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).Growth divergence between the various regions will likely widen this year, according to the report, which attributes it in part to differing impacts from recent drops in the price of oil and other commodities.In the short-term, growth prospects for most commodity-exporting economies have been downgraded, while commodity-importers have tended to benefit from the lower prices in the form of reduced inflationary, fiscal and balance-of-payment pressures.There are significant downside risks related to the impact of the upcoming monetary policy normalization in the United States, ongoing uncertainties in the Euro area and potential spillover from geopolitical conflicts and persistent vulnerabilities in emerging economies.The risk factors are not only interconnected but could be mutually reinforcing and could possibly lead to weaker than expected expansion of the global economy.The overall subdued performance of the world economy since the global financial crisis has raised concerns of a “new normal” of lower growth. The broad-based weakness in investment worldwide not only holds back current growth, but also reduces potential growth in the future.“It is somewhat concerning that, despite highly accommodative monetary policies and historically low global interest rates, real investment has been weak in many parts of the world since the global financial crisis,” said Ingo Pitterle, the Development Policy and Analysis Division team leader for the report.
“There were indications at the Yongbyon Experimental Nuclear Power Plant suggesting that the reactor was being operated, [and] at the Yongbyon Nuclear Fuel Rod Fabrication Plant, there were indications consistent with the use of the reported centrifuge enrichment facility,” said Yukiya Amano, the Director General of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), at the agency’s Board of Governors meeting in Vienna. “The continuation and further development of the nuclear programme of the DPRK are a cause for grave concern.” Noting that the IAEA continues to closely follow developments in the country’s nuclear programme, the Director General said that the UN agency is enhancing its efforts to monitor and verify nuclear-related developments, including through ensuring the availability of appropriate verification technologies and equipment. Turning to other areas, Mr. Amano said that the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action are being implemented and that the IAEA continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by the country under its Safeguards Agreement. “We will continue to implement the Additional Protocol in Iran, including carrying out complementary accesses to sites and other locations, as we do in other countries with additional protocols,” he noted. On the implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Safeguards Agreement in Syria, the IAEA Director General said that the agency’s assessment remains that it was “very likely” that the building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site in 2007 was a nuclear reactor that should have been declared as such by Syria under its Safeguards Agreement. “I renew my call on Syria to cooperate fully with [IAEA] in connection with unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and other locations,” he urged. Also in his statement, Mr. Amano spoke of the agency’s technical cooperation programme, including its work to contain the outbreak of the fruit fly pest in the Dominican Republic and efforts to conserve ground water and protect it from pollution in the Sahel region, as well as its work on nuclear applications, and on nuclear safety and security. Citing increasing demand for assistance under the technical cooperation programme, the IAEA Director General also urged all countries to contribute funds, and welcomed support through extrabudgetary contributions, including government cost sharing.