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UPDATE 1-Vietnam economic growth picks up as new virus outbreaks tamed

* Q3 GDP growth seen at 2.62% y/y vs 7.31% expansion in Q3 2019

* But growth picks up from revised 0.39% expansion in Q2

* Trade surplus in Jan-Sept seen at $16.99 billion

* (Adds detail and context)

HANOI, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Vietnam’s economic growth picked up pace in the third quarter this year after hitting the slowest level in decades in the second quarter, official data showed on Tuesday, but remains significantly below the pre-pandemic period.

With fewer than 1,100 coronavirus infections and 35 deaths, Vietnam has managed to contain new outbreaks in the community, allowing it to resume economic activity sooner than many other countries.

Gross domestic product growth in the third quarter likely accelerated to 2.62% year-on-year, up from an expansion of 0.39% in the second quarter, data from the General Statistics Office of Vietnam showed. Second-quarter growth was revised up from 0.36%.

Growth in the July-September period, however, remains significantly lower than an expansion of 7.31% recorded at the same period last year, before the pandemic.

According to the GSO, Vietnam’s exports in the first nine months of this year rose 4.2% from a year earlier to $202.86 billion, while imports fell 0.8% to $185.87 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $16.99 billion.

Vietnam’s consumer prices in September rose 2.98% from a year earlier, the GSO said. Average consumer prices in the January-September period rose 3.85%.

Industrial output in September rose 3.8% from a year earlier, while total retail sales of goods and services in the month rose 4.9% year on year, the GSO data showed.

Vietnam, which has not reported any domestically transmitted coronavirus infections for 27 days, has eased most of its social distancing measures and allowed airlines to resume some international commercial flights. (Reporting by Khanh Vu Editing by Ed Davies)