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Economic growth in Armenia appears to have accelerated to at least 6 percent in the first half of this year, approaching an ambitious target rate set by President Serzh Sarkisian, Finance Minister Vache Gabrielian said on Thursday.

“According to our estimates, 6-6.5 percent is our growth indicator,” Gabrielian told Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian and fellow cabinet members. “Of course, corrections are possible because these are Ministry of Finance estimates, rather than official data from the National Statistical Service (NSS).”

The NSS has released no growth figures for the first half yet. Its most recent GDP data showed the Armenian economy expanding by 4.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

The government agency publicized on Wednesday only first-half performances of separate sectors of the economy. In particular, Armenian industrial output soared by 13 percent in January-June. The NSS also reported strong gains in agriculture and services.

Gabrielian stressed the importance of these figures during the cabinet meeting.

The Armenian government forecast late last year that economic growth in the country will slightly slow to 4.2 percent in 2012. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank came up with virtually identical forecasts before slightly revising them downwards this spring.

Still, President Sarkisian announced in June that a full-year GDP growth rate of 7 percent is his “primary expectation” from his newly reshuffled government. Economy Minister Tigran Davtian insisted last week that this target is “absolutely realistic.”

Gabrielian on Wednesday also expressed confidence that consumer price inflation in Armenia will be within the government’s target band of 4 percent (±1.5 percentage points) in 2012. “We can state with certitude that this year’s inflation target is absolutely reachable and inflation will definitely be … very close to the target,” he said.

According to NSS data cited by the minister, the inflation rate stood at 2.2 percent in January-July. The consumer price index was down by 1.5 percent year on year in July, reflecting a traditional seasonal drop in the cost of domestically grown fruit and vegetables.
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