Cuban GDP grew 2.1 pct in 1st-half 2012 - minister

HAVANA, July 23 Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:17am IST

HAVANA, July 23 (Reuters) - Cuba's gross domestic product grew 2.1 percent in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2011 and the communist-ruled country has continued to post a positive trade balance, Economy Minister Adel Yzquierdo said on Monday.

The official Prensa Latina News Agency, reporting on a closed-door meeting of the Cuban National Assembly, said the overall results were considered positive.

Government officials have said the goal is to achieve 3 percent GDP growth in 2012.

The economy grew 2.7 percent in 2011 despite tough austerity measures imposed by President Raul Castro beginning in 2009.

Yzquierdo said trade continued to perform positively, without giving any details. Cuba reported a $4 billion trade surplus in 2011.

Cuba has not reported on its current account balance of payments since 2009.

Cuba is in the midst of a sweeping reform of its Soviet style economy in an effort to pull out of a crisis that has dragged on for two decades.

The island nation is also saddled with a growing foreign debt now estimated at more than $22 billion by local economists.

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