Belarus economy grew 0.3 pct in H1 '09

MINSK, July 13 (Reuters) - The Belarussian economy grew 0.3 percent in the first half of this year against growth of 10.4 percent in the same period last year, as exports tumbled and industrial production slowed, data showed on Monday.

Belarus has been hit by the global economic and financial crisis, but the tiny growth registered in the first six months is far better than an expected fall of 10 percent in Russia. Ukraine's GDP fell 20 percent in the first quarter. Belstat, the state statistical office, said industrial output slowed to 3.6 percent in the first half against growth of 13 percent in the same period a year ago.

The government expects economic growth by the end of the year to reach 5 percent, though analysts say that is an optimistic forecast. The economy has grown on average 10 percent in recent years.

Separate data issued by Belstat showed inflation rose to 0.4 percent in June month-on-month, against 0.3 percent in May. Prices rose 7.3 percent in the first six months of the year, the same as a year ago.

Inflation grew 13.3 percent last year against 12.1 percent in 2007. The government expects it to slow to 9-11 percent this year. (Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky)



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