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Vietnam's growth is slowest for 10 years

VIETNAM'S economic growth slowed to its lowest rate in a decade in the first quarter of this year, the government said yesterday, as the global economic slump dragged on exports and construction.

Gross domestic product grew an estimated 3.1 percent in the January-March period from a year earlier, less than half of the 7.4 percent growth in the same period last year, the General Statistic Office said in a statement.

The world economic crisis has cut into export demand and foreign direct investment, which has led to a recession in the country's construction industry, it said.

The office often releases economic data before the end of the period in question.

The government has lowered its 2009 growth forecast from 6.5 percent to between 4.8 and 5.6 percent.

Ayumi Konishi, country director of the Asian Development Bank, was optimistic about the outlook for Vietnam.

"Knowing what's happening with the world economy now, 3.1 percent growth isn't really bad," Konishi said. "I think the country's economy will start picking up from the next quarter as the government's economic stimulus measures start showing impact."

Vietnam's economy has expanded an average of 7 percent a year for the past decade, but began overheating last year with high inflation and a trade deficit. The economy slowed to 6.2 percent in 2008.


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