YEREVAN -- Armenia's economy continues to decline, showing an 18.5 percent decline in its gross domestic product (GDP) during the period of January through July, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
In the first half of the year the country's GDP fell by 16.3 percent and is expected to reach 20 percent by the end of the year. Government officials are nevertheless optimistic.
Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian said earlier this month that the anticrisis measures taken by the government should cause a slowdown of the decline in the coming months, and the government expects the economy to grow by 1 percent in 2010.
The current economic decline follows six years of double-digit GDP growth, due largely to large-scale housing projects. The amount of construction in Armenia shrank by 55.5 percent from January through July, significantly contributing to the total decline in GDP.
Economist Ara Nranian, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun) party in parliament, told RFE/RL that "nothing unexpected has happened considering the contents and branch structure of the economic decline."