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Azerbaijan Keeps Rates Unchanged

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Azerbaijan's central bank said on May 6 it has decided to keep its key refinancing rate unchanged, extending support for the commodity-dependent economy.

The central bank said it will keep the refi rate at an annualized 2 percent and will maintain mandatory reserve requirements at 0.5 percent - a level to which the rates were cut a year ago.

The government expects the country's gross domestic product to grow 6.8 percent, down from the 9.3 percent last year and significantly lower than the oil-fuelled boom period of 2003-2007 when growth averaged 21 percent.

President Ilham Aliyev said last month GDP was up 5.4 percent in the first quarter and that the country has chosen the right strategy to maneuver through the global economic and financial crisis.

But the International Monetary Fund estimates the Azeri economy will grow 2.7 percent this year and urged the government to reduce its dependence on commodities.

Exports of oil products were down 11.9 percent at 759,173 tonnes between January and April from a year ago, state oil firm SOCAR said on May 6.

This comes after the Azeri State Statistics Committee said that crude oil production rose by 6.4 percent year-on-year in the first quarter to 12.3 million tones.

Source: Reuters

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