Greek Economy Seen Shrinking Further Next Year

By DEREK GATOPOULOS and ELENA BECATOROS

ATHENS, Greece (AP) a¿¿ A top international economic body warned Wednesday that Greece's crippling recession is likely to continue into next year, and urged bailout creditors to intervene as soon as possible to make the country's debt sustainable.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said the Greek economy, which is shrinking for a sixth consecutive year, would contract another 0.4 percent in 2014. In contrast, the Greek government forecasts 0.6 percent growth.

"We are half a decade into the longest, deepest economic crisis that we have known," OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said in Athens, where he presented the report. "But there is hope on the horizon: 2014 promises to be a turning point for Greece."

Greece has been relying on rescue loans from the International Monetary Fund and other European countries since May 2010. The current conservative-led government plans to return to bond markets next year to finance itself. It also aims to qualify for additional debt relief from creditors after balancing the budget before interest payments.

The OECD, however, said a "less favorable than expected international environment" was likely to undermine Greece's efforts to bring down public debt. It predicted debt would remain at 160 percent of gross domestic product by 2020 rather than decline to 124 percent.

The agency recently revised its prediction for global growth this year to 2.7 percent from a 3.1 percent estimate made five months ago.

Gurria said Greece's bailout creditors should find ways to get Greece's national debt down without delay.

"One more request. And here I will make it in capital letters: Let's do it as soon as possible," he said.

Germany, the biggest bailout lender, has ruled out cancelling a portion of the debt Greece owes, but has appeared open to further improving repayment terms.

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