Vietnam economic growth of 6.5 pct in 2010 is "possible,' IMF says

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Vietnam's economic growth may reach the government's 6.5 percent target for the year, the International Monetary Fund said, citing a recent acceleration in the pace of expansion.

Gross domestic product in the Southeast Asian nation grew 5.3 percent in 2009, down from 6.2 percent in 2008. First- quarter growth this year may total about 6 percent, State Bank of Vietnam Governor Nguyen Van Giau said Monday.

Vietnam's economy is "beginning to bounce back," said Anoop Singh, the Washington-based director of the IMF's Asia and Pacific department, speaking to journalists Tuesday in Hanoi.

"It's fairly convincing to accept that growth will go back to at least 6 percent," said Singh. "The government is hoping that it reaches 6.5 percent and I think that is also possible. The trend in the last few quarters is favorable."

Fourth-quarter growth was 6.9 percent, up from 6 percent in the third quarter, according to the Hanoi-based General Statistics Office.

Vietnam's ability to reach its growth target will depend on the maintenance of macroeconomic stability, Singh said. Vietnam's year-on-year inflation rate reached 8.46 percent in February, the highest since April 2009.

"To the extent to which inflation is reflecting broad demand pressures and expansionary monetary policies, the government and the State Bank will take steps to reduce those," said Singh.

Vietnam's government may reduce its fiscal deficit to as little as 6 percent of GDP in 2010 from about 9 percent last year, he said. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said in December that the government plans to "gradually reduce" its budget deficit.

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