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Foreign Exchange

On the road to euroland

Rating agency Fitch has released its latest assessment of when the 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004 are likely to join the European exchange rate mechanism (ERM) II and adopt the euro. Its findings are not particularly encouraging.

"In some respects there has been a 'de-convergence' over the past 12 months in that a majority of countries met fewer of the Maastricht criteria in mid-2005 than in mid-2004," says Edward Parker, senior director in Fitch's sovereign group.

Estonia, Lithuania and Slovenia are leading the way towards the single currency, and are still expected to adopt the euro in January 2007.

Cyprus, Latvia and Malta have also made good progress, having joined the ERM II in April. They are committed to adopting the euro in 2008. Although Fitch is confident about Cyprus and Malta's ability to meet this goal, it cautions that inflationary pressures in Latvia might mean that its adoption of the euro is postponed from 2008 to 2009.

Of the larger central European economies, the Slovak Republic is best positioned for speedy adoption of the euro.

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