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IMF predicts economic slowdown in Russia in next two years

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 11 (RIA Novosti) - Economic growth in Russia will slow down over the next two years, the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday.

In its annual survey of the global economy, the IMF said Russia's gross domestic product would grow at a rate of 6.4% in 2007 and 5.9% in 2008, down from last year's 6.7%.

The Russian government initially projected this year's GDP growth rate at 6.2%, but the economy's strong performance in the first two months and higher industrial output expectations have made authorities raise their estimate to 6.5%.

IMF analysts also predicted a slowdown in Russian oil production as a result of modest investment.

Yearend consumer inflation dropped to 9% in 2006, but was still 0.5% above the official forecast, the IMF said.

According to the fund, last year saw an increase in primary surplus, thanks largely to high oil export revenues. But budget spending increased as well.

The IMF opens an annual spring session Saturday, with Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin expected to be among the attendees.

In a survey released last November, the IMF said Russia's GDP would be growing by an estimated 6.5% annually in 2006-2007. It projected the rate of inflation at 9.3% in 2006 and 8% in 2007.

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