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MONROVIA, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Liberia, the West African nation hardest hit by Ebola, will see its economy shrink by 0.4 percent this year, and 2015 could be even worse, its finance minister said on Thursday.
Liberia, where the disease has killed over 2,800 people, had projected growth of 5.9 percent this year before Ebola struck the country, crippling agriculture and its fast-growing mining sector in particular.
Last month, the government announced that the economy had fallen into recession.
“The impressive real GDP growth rate that Liberia sustained over the last few years, which was approaching 9 percent just one year ago, has now dipped into negative territory, signifying the shrinking of our economy,” the minister, Amara Konneh, told journalists.
Despite early fears of an exponential boom in Ebola cases, new infections in Liberia are declining, and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Wednesday that her government has the upper hand in the fight against the disease.
However Konneh said the economy would likely be slow to recover. “With economic activities expected to further deteriorate in the remaining months of 2014 and likely even worsen in 2015, our growth rate for next year is still subject to revision,” he said. (Reporting by James Harding Giahyue; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by David Lewis/Mark Heinrich and Mark Trevelyan)