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Growth up 6.6% in Jan-Sep 2008

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September 28, 2008

Vietnam: Growth up 6.6% in Jan-Sep 2008
Vietnam's economy is estimated to have grown 6.52 percent in the first nine months of this year from a year earlier, maintaining the pace seen in the first half of the year, Reuters reported, quoting government figures.

Still, annual growth has weakened from more than 8 percent in the first nine months of 2007 as the economy felt the hit from the global rise in prices for raw materials and food.

Reflecting the inflation threat, Vietnam has cut its 2008 growth target to 7 percent from an original goal of up to 9 percent.

The latest growth data "promised the possibility of attaining the projected growth target" for the year, the government said in a statement, citing Planning and Investment Ministry reports.

Vietnam has adopted various measures to try to counter a widening trade deficit and inflation that has been in double digit for 11 straight months, including raising interest rates and restricting imports of luxury goods.

Vietnam has estimated its trade deficit would nearly double to $15.8 billion in the first nine months of 2008 from a year ago.

September consumer prices are estimated to have risen by 27.9 percent from a year earlier, but easing from the annual pace seen last month.

However, banks' lending rates are still high, making it difficult for business to expand, the statement said.

Earlier on Friday, the central bank said it will raise the interest rate on banks' compulsory reserves against their dong deposits to 5 percent to reduce the cost of borrowing, thus helping banks cut their lending rates.

"In order to reach the annual growth of 7 percent for the whole of 2008, the economy has to strive a lot in the fourth quarter," the government said without giving further details.

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