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Steady GDP growth continues in the UNECE region

Economic growth is an essential driver of sustainable development. Recognizing this, Goal 8 of the 2030 Agenda aims for sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. What are the key trends in economic growth across the diverse economies of the UNECE region?

Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by slightly over two per cent throughout the UNECE region in 2017. 

In the first quarter of 2018 growth increased in the United States, while the countries of the European Union (EU) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) saw growth that was a fraction slower.

In the first quarter of 2018 the United States’ GDP increased by 2.6 per cent from the same period in the previous year, slightly accelerating from the 2.2 per cent growth in 2017.

Growth weakened in the EU, reaching 2.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, and 2.4 per cent in 2017. The Euro zone countries kept pace with the EU average.

As has already happened in many EU countries, in 2017 Latvia, Spain and Slovenia reached the GDP level they had before the economic crisis in 2009. This leaves only six EU countries below their pre-crisis level. GDP grew in 2017 in all EU countries, with Ireland once again the fastest-growing economy in the EU (7.2 per cent), ahead of Malta (6.9) and Romania (6.4). At the other end of the spectrum, only Belgium (1.7), the United Kingdom (1.7), Italy (1.5) and Greece (1.4) recorded growth of less than two per cent. In the first quarter of 2018, GDP grew from the same period in the previous year in all other EU countries except Denmark (-1.4).

The CIS countries continue to recover from their 2015 economic downturn, with GDP growing in all CIS countries in 2017—almost reaching the pace of the United States and the EU. During the first quarter of 2018, GDP growth continued steadily throughout the sub-region.