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U.K. Economic Growth Outlook Rises

Gordon Brown, the U.K.’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, raised the growth forecast for Britain's economy Wednesday to an annual rate of 2.75% for 2006, compared to earlier forecasts of 2% to 2.5%.

Next year’s growth forecast has been left the same at an annual rate of 2.75% to 3.25%, the Treasury chief said in his annual pre-budget report to Parliament.

"In the next ten years the competitive challenge is even more profound," Brown told parliament, referring to the recent dramatic growth of emerging economies such as India and China.

"A lot of people will be looking to the U.K. to see if it can maintain growth as the rest of the world is trending down," said Martin Baccardax, news editor at CNBC Europe.

Brown also announced an increase in air-passenger duty in the speech. And he announced a massive cash boost for education and skills training, referencing the need for global competitiveness.

The speech was seen by many analysts as being motivated by domestic politics and less concerned with economics, due to Brown’s likely ascension to leader of the Labour party, replacing Tony Blair as prime minister.

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