Vietnam targets 7 pct GDP growth in second half of 2010

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Vietnam needs to target 7 percent economic growth in the second half of 2010 to meet its full-year expansion goal of 6.5 percent, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said at a ministerial meeting Wednesday.

The nation's growth may increase by as much as 0.5 percentage points in the second quarter from 5.83 percent in the previous three months, according to a statement on the government's website.

Vietnam's economy has been "relatively stable" so far this year and the government will continue to prioritize the maintenance of stability as well as prevent inflation from accelerating to a very high level, according to the statement.

The Southeast Asian nation's government has been implementing measures including eliminating the links between market interest rates and the benchmark to buoy the economy. The central bank on April 14 issued guidelines for lenders to set their own rates for lending at "reasonable levels," to make it easier for companies to access funds.

Vietnam's economy may expand 7.2 percent this year, the fastest pace since 2007, according to HSBC Holdings Plc. That would be faster than the 6 percent forecast from the International Monetary Fund.

Consumer prices climbed 9.23 percent in April from a year earlier, down from 9.46 percent in March, as food costs eased. The country expects to keep inflation at 7 percent this year.

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