N.B. economic outlook brighter

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FREDERICTON, N.B. — A four per cent growth in New Brunswick’s economy has been predicted for next year says the Conference Board of Canada.

After the “economic weakness” which hit much of the country in 2001, but left the Metro Moncton area relatively unscathed, the economy is expected to improve this year and accelerate into next year.

The improving economy will boost New Brunswick among the provinces into the third strongest growth in 2003 behind only Newfoundland and Ontario, the Conference Board projects.

The improving economy will translate into a slightly higher employment rate and lead to increases in disposable income.

In 2001, the provincial gross domestic product grew by 0.6 per cent. The Conference Board is projecting that the economy will grow by 1.3 per cent this year and 3.7 per cent next year.

Both projections are better than the Conference Board’s last quarterly projection in October. Then, it predicted growth in 2002 at one per cent and 2003 at 3.5 per cent.

Growth province-wide will be fueled by a $500-million expansion at the Irving oil refinery in Saint John and an improved U.S. economy, but dampened by continuing trade dispute on softwood lumber. With an impending resolution to the softwood lumber dispute, the forestry sector is expected to improve.

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