The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is likely to acknowledge the possibility of a modest recovery in Japan’s economy at its ministerial meeting in Paris this week, according to a draft statement obtained Saturday.

“The recovery that began late last year in the United States is spreading to most of the OECD area, with Japan also likely to experience a very modest recovery beginning later this year,” says the statement.

The evaluation is a half-step forward from the original phrase describing Japan’s economic recovery as “very muted.”

The change apparently indicates that the Paris-based group now sees Japan’s economy as bottoming out, informed sources said.

But the draft singled out Japan, comparing it with the other OECD economies. That may reflect the organization’s persistent concerns about Japan’s weak recovery, they said.

The draft statement consists of four sections — economic outlook, ensuring integrity and transparency in the international economy, the liberalization of market access, and sustainable growth and development.

The ministerial meeting is scheduled to be held Wednesday and Thursday.

The draft statement indicates the ministers are also likely to agree on close cooperation to fight terrorism, financial crime and abuses such as money laundering.

Ministers are to agree to strengthen corporate and financial governance standards in view of some serious financial scandals, such as the collapse of U.S. energy giant Enron Corp. late last year.

On the question of new trade liberalization talks by the World Trade Organization, the draft indicates that ministers are to support the Jan. 1, 2005, deadline for concluding the new round.

To get developing economies to participate, the ministers are to agree to step up their efforts to liberalize market access in developed economies in such contentious areas as agriculture and textiles.

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