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Armenian Economic Growth Picking Up

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian
Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian
YEREVAN -- Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian says economic growth has accelerated in recent months, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
Sarkisian told a cabinet session on September 22 that growth is now on track to reach the annual target rate of roughly 4.6 percent.
The most recent data released by the government is for the first quarter of this year. It shows Gross Domestic Product increasing by only 1.2 percent year-on-year.
Citing estimates by government experts, Sarkisian said the growth rate for January-August was 4.5 percent. "This means that our [macroeconomic] program for 2011 is a totally realistic program," he said.
Sarkisian cited manufacturing and agriculture as key factors behind this year's economic growth.
According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), Armenia's aggregate industrial output rose by 12.8 percent in the first half of 2011, helped by the strong performance of the domestic mining and metallurgical sectors. The latter have greatly benefited from increased international prices of base metals, the country's most-important export.
The NSS data also shows that the agricultural sector expanded by 2.3 percent in the first half, following a more than 14 percent decline last year. The slump slowed down overall economic growth to 2.6 percent in 2010.
The NSS also reported last month a 6.6 percent first-half fall in construction. The construction sector, the main engine of Armenia's double-digit growth between 2001-2007, is still reeling from the 2009 global recession.
Sarkisian downplayed the drop, arguing that the economy is no longer heavily dependent on construction. "The share of construction in GDP has shrunk by half," he said. "On the other hand, there has been a diversification of our economy, which is reducing fluctuation risks in terms of economic growth."
"That is, we are not at risk to the kind of unprecedented decline that we had in 2009," he added.

The Armenian economy contracted by more than 14 percent in 2009.

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