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UPDATE 1-Ukraine economy shows record 20.3 pct drop Q1

Tue, 30th Jun 2009 18:05

KIEV, June 30 (Reuters) - Ukraine's economy, hard hit by the global financ
ial crisis and collapse in demand for its exports, shrank by a record 20.3 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2009, the State Statistics Committee said on Tuesday.

The quarterly gross domestic product figure was the first to be issued this year after the Committee said it would no longer publish monthly data. In the first quarter of last year, the economy grew 6.3 percent year-on-year.

The figure's release coincided with the arrival in Ukraine of the chief of an International Monetary Fund mission considering the release of a third tranche in a $16.4 billion loan programme.

President Viktor Yushchenko had earlier forecast a plunge in GDP of 21-23 percent in the first quarter, while Ukrainian analysts had given estimates rangng from negative growth of 15 percent to minus 25.5 percent.

A panel of analysts polled by Reuters had predicted a dip, on average, of 20.5 percent.

Previously, the lowest post-Soviet decline in Ukraine's GDP was recorded in 1994 -- 29.2 percent in the first half year-on-year and 22.9 percent over the course of the year.

The economy has been jolted since the end of 2008 by a steep cut in export markets linked to the global financial crisis.

Also affecting the economy were a sharp tightening of credit conditions on international markets and a steep fall in consumer purchasing power.

The economy shrank 8.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Growth over the course of 2008 was positive at 2.1 percent -- compared to 7.9 percent a year earlier.

Ukraine's government is standing by its original forecast of 0.4 percent growth throughout 2009 despite all analysts' forecasts of a deep contraction ranging from 8-15 percent.

(Reporting by Natalya Zinets, writing by Ron Popeski, editing by Victoria Main)

(Kiev bureau; +380 44 244 9150 Reuters


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