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December 6, 2008

IMF: Vietnam’s growth to slow to 5 percent
Vietnam's economic boom will continue to fade next year with growth slowing to 5 percent as the global downturn hits exports and foreign investment, the Associated Press quoted the International Monetary Fund as saying Thursday.

The communist country's economy grew by 8.5 percent last year and has expanded at least 7 percent annually for a decade, one of the fastest rates in the world.

But the IMF's Shogo Ishii, speaking at an aid conference in Hanoi, said growth in Vietnam's gross domestic product would probably slow to 5 percent next year and only reach 6.25 percent this year.

Ishii and other donors warned that as the global downturn deepens, Vietnam should expect a slowdown in exports, foreign investment and capital flows.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said Vietnam still hoped to achieve growth of 6.5 percent next year and 6.7 percent this year.

Representatives from the IMF and the Asian Development Bank cautioned that the 6.5 percent target was too ambitious, given Vietnam's new economic challenges, which also include high inflation and growing trade deficit.

Ishii said Vietnam's medium-term outlook remained positive, but it would have to carefully navigate a host of short-term challenges.

"These challenges are compounded by the fact that the authorities will simultaneously have to address a large current account deficit and weakness in the banking and corporate sectors," Ishii said.

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