January 1, 1995

AIECE working group reports - spring 1995; le commerce mondial en 1995-1996; world commodity prices 1994-1996

The papers put together in this publication are the half-yearly reports of two working groups of the AIECE, in which CPB actively participates.

The reports, presented on behalf of the groups, form the synthesis of views of many institutes and have their value as such. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the reporting institute itself. AIECE is the Association of European Conjuncture Institutes, (in French: Association d'Instituts Européens de Conjoncture Économique), founded in 1957. The AIECE now groups 42 members and observing institutes, representing 20 countries and 4 international organisations (EU, OECD, IMF and ECE). The membership is open to independent European institutes involved in surveying economic development and macroeconomic forecasting. Independent is interpreted as not directly being involved in conducting economic policies and not representing some economic interests. The main objective of the association is to intensify the exchanges between its members with a view to improve their insight into international economic developments.

The Central Planning Bureau is a long-standing member of this organisation, which is appreciated as a valuable platform for exchange of views with mostly non-govern-mental institutes, next to the Bureau's official contacts with in particular OECD and EU. Moreover, it is a useful source of information when making CPB-forecasts. Twice a year world economic issues are discussed in the plenary meetings of the AIECE. Major points on the agenda are the general report on the European conjuncture, prepared in turn by one of the institutes, and the presentation of selected special studies. Two standing working groups report on respectively the development of world commodity prices, and on world trade. In a special session reports are discussed on longer-term prospects and structural changes. These reports are meant to give a general assessment of developments in the respective fields. As the results may be interesting also for a wider public, the CPB publishes the working group reports in its Working Paper series.

Spring 1995, the Belgian DULBEA-institute has reported on world trade development on behalf of the Working Group on Foreign Trade. The analyses are largely based on the forecasts provided by the member-institutes with respect to their own country. The working group deals mainly with non-European developments, and places the European figures in a world setting. The assumptions made with respect to the international environment (oil prices, dollar exchange rate etc.) are consensus forecasts, and thus may have required a modification of the data supplied by the respective institutes for their own country. (The latest CPB analyses can be found in: Central Economic Plan 1995, April 1995).

Summarising trade tables with e.g. market growth, calculated import prices, export prices of competitors give the institutes the opportunity to re-assess their forecasts. The Dutch Central Planning Bureau reported on behalf of the Working Group on Commodity Prices. The group is formed by specialists on raw material prices of the AIECE member institutes. Their half-yearly report evaluates recent development of commodity prices and presents, starting from a set of framework assumptions, detailed price forecasts for a large number of commodity groups for the coming year and a half. One technical assumption made in its report is constant exchange rates, which is the most striking difference with the approach of the trade group. As there is indeed an exchange of information between the working groups, other differences in framework assumptions are usually limited.