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Rep of Congo economy to grow 6.8 pct

BRAZZAVILLE, June 8

Republic of Congo's economy will grow at 6.8 percent in 2009, up from 5.2 percent last year but down from a previous forecast of 10.1 percent for this year, the economy ministry in Congo Brazaville said on Monday.

Congo's oil-dependent economy has been hit by the economic downturn but its growth forecast is above other members of the Central African economic block (CEMAC), the regional grouping's central bank governor said.

"Without the commodities crisis, which has had an impact on growth in our countries, Congo's potential growth, which was over 10 percent, has dropped to around six percent," said Philibert Andzembe, governor of the CEMAC central bank.

Some nations in the block are also seeing their oil exports drop as their fields mature but Andzembe said Congo's strong performance was down to its sustained output, which is currently around 230,000 barrels per day.

Andzembe, speaking after attending a meeting of Congo's National Monetary and Finance Committee, which announced the revised growth figures, said growth forecasts for rest of the six nation CEMAC zone were between 2 and 3 percent for 2009.

The economies in the CEMAC zone grew at an average of 4.4 percent last year but public and external accounts have been deteriorating due to the fall in the prices of crude oil and other commodities, especially minerals and wood. (Reuters)