Panama's growth to exceed 8.5 pct in 2011-IMF

WASHINGTON Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:13pm EST

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WASHINGTON Nov 21 (Reuters) - The Panama Canal's expansion is driving growth and demand in Panama, where economic growth is set to exceed 8.5 percent this year, making it one of the fastest-growing countries in the Western Hemisphere, the IMF said on Monday.

"Near-term prospects are favorable, although global risks associated with economic activity and financial stability are on the rise," the IMF said in a statement at the end of regular economic consultations with Panama's authorities.

It said inflation would likely remain relatively high in Panama, but should gradually decline as global commodity prices ease.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton)

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