The latest, generally upbeat, global economy report from the United Nations, predicts a 3.25% growth rate this year, slightly down from 4% growth in 2004.

Growth in developing countries was at its fastest in two decades last year, with East Asia showing the strongest performance, driven by China's continued economic expansion.

But World Economic Situation and Prospects 2005 singles out the US, the driving force of the world economy, saying it must get its estimated $650 billion (€501bn, £348bn) trade deficit under control.

UN undersecretary general for economic affairs Jose Antonia Ocampo urges co-ordination between the governments of the developed countries "for long term gradual adjustment that has to balance both deficit and surplus economies".

However, the report points to the USA and China as the main stimuli for growth. China's economy grew by 9.2% and is expected to rise by 8.75% in 2005. Japan's growth was moderate but it is at risk from the weak US dollar and resulting attractiveness of American exports.

Western European growth slowed in the latter half of 2004, partly due to high oil prices, and ended at 2%, with little expectation for improvement in 2005.

Data sourced from People's Daily Online; additional content by WARC staff