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Monday, April 20, 2009

Ecuador's Correa says 08 GDP grew 6.52 pct

QUITO, April 11 (Reuters) - Ecuador's economy grew 6.52 percent in 2008 despite a global financial crisis that has curtailed key oil exports, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said on Saturday citing central bank data.

The central bank had initially estimated economic growth at 5.3 percent in 2008. The OPEC-member nation grew 2.49 percent in all of 2007.

"They gave me the last central bank estimate that says total growth in 2008 was 6.5 percent," Correa said during his weekly radio address. "And that's despite the fact that the crisis hit us in the fourth quarter and the economy slowed."

Correa said the country's oil economy slowed due to lower private investment, but non-oil economic activity grew 7.95 percent in 2008. He said higher-than-expected growth was mainly due to his government policies that include heavy public spending.

Ecuadorean officials have said the economy could grow between 1.4 percent to 3.2 percent this year depending on oil prices and the worldwide economic recession that has curtailed demand for its agriculture exports.

Local economists and analysts have questioned the central bank methods to calculate the gross domestic product after Correa ordered an overhaul of its statistics.

The central bank has not yet officially released economic growth data for the last quarter of 2008.

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