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Wed 26 Nov 2008 05:37 PM

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Bahrain grows at fastest rate for five years

Official data shows big expansion in financial, manufacturing and gov't sectors in 2007.

Bahrain's economy expanded 8.1 percent in 2007, its fastest pace in five years, as the Gulf island kingdom expanded its financial, manufacturing and government sectors, official data showed on Wednesday.

That compared with real gross domestic product (GDP) of 6.7 percent in 2006 and 7.9 percent in 2005, the Central Bank of Bahrain said in a quarterly report on its website.

The growth rate exceeded a median forecast of economists of 6.4 percent in a Reuters poll in July. Economists in the poll said they expected growth of 6.5 percent this year.

The value of oil sector output rose 11.2 percent to 602.6 million dinars ($1.60 billion), while the non-oil sector grew 9.3 percent to 3.84 billion dinars, the data showed.

Financial corporations advanced 8.5 percent, manufacturing grew 6.5 percent and non-financial corporations - which account for about 84 percent of non-oil GDP - climbed seven percent.

Bahrain's $18.4 billion economy, the smallest among Gulf Arab states, was likely to growth 5 percent or more through to 2010, despite the likely global recession, it Gulf state's finance ministry undersecretary, Aref Saleh Khamis, said on Tuesday. (Reuters)