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    GDP up 1.5-fold in real terms from 1999 to 2005 - Gref

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    MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's GDP grew 1.5-fold in real terms from 1999 to 2005, the economics minister said Friday.

    "In 1999, GDP amounted to $196 billion, in 2005 it reached $765.8 billion, or increased nearly four-fold in dollar equivalent," German Gref said, adding that in real terms this meant a 1.5-fold increase.

    "Russia is continuing to develop dynamically," Gref said. "GDP grew 6.4% in 2005 compared with 2.8% registered in Japan, 3.5% in the U.S., 3.5% in the euro zone, and 7% in the CIS [a union of ex-Soviet republics]."

    However, he said growth had slowed down in Russia recently due to the country's inability to increase oil and natural gas production and exports, and to the excessively strong ruble.

    Gref said the only way to ensure further growth was by improving productivity and diversifying the economy, for which greater investment was vital.

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