(dpa) - The prospect of a recession in the United States has not stunted growth in the wider global economy nearly as much as in past crises, a sign that rising economic powers have begun to offer "alternative poles of growth," World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Wednesday.
Zoellick said the lack of a strong knock-on effect from the financial crisis in the developed world was something "strikingly different" from past experience, and showed that China, India and other developing countries were beginning to play a significant role in the global market.
The noticeable shift to emerging economies represents a "welcome diversification of the sources of growth," Zoellick said in a speech at the Center for Global Development in Washington.
US growth slowed to an annualized 0.6 per cent in the last quarter of 2007. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Wednesday that the world's largest economy may contract in the first six months of 2008.
Zoellick said demand for imports in developing countries has now outstripped demand from industrial nations, but he warned that poorer nations were still feeling some effects of the economic slowdown.
"This amounts to a rebalancing, not a decoupling, that supports an inclusive and sustainable globalization," he said.
Developing countries are especially vulnerable to the sharp rise in food and energy prices. The World Bank believes 33 countries face "potential social unrest" from the rising cost of staple products, Zoellick said.
Zoellick called on the developed world to meet immediate food shortages in Africa and elsewhere. The World Bank plans to nearly double its own lending for agricultural programs in Africa in 2008, he said.