Turkmen GDP rises 11 pct in Jan-July - president
ASHGABAT Aug 6 (Reuters) - Turkmenistan's gross domestic product grew by 11.0 percent in January-July year-on-year compared to a 14.4-percent rise in the same period of 2011, President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said in a state television report aired on Monday.
Turkmenistan, holder of the world's fourth-largest reserves of natural gas and Central Asia's largest producer of the fuel, is one of the world's most reclusive states, and its strongman leader remains the main source of macroeconomic information.
"There is every reason to believe that this growth trend will continue in the future," Berdymukhamedov told a government meeting.
Berdymukhamedov, a professional dentist, was sworn in for a second five-year term in February after winning 97 percent of votes in an election so devoid of competition that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe declined to send observers.
He said the nation of 5.5 million's economy growth in the first seven months of this year had been driven by a rises in industrial output and construction of 40-percent and 18.4-percent respectively.
Turkmenistan's GDP, which hinges heavily on production and exports of natural gas, grew by 14.7 percent last year after a 9.2-percent rise in 2010, official statistics showed.
The TV report said Berdymukhamedov "had given a number of orders to further develop the fuel and energy sector ... and attract foreign investment in large-scale infrastructure projects, including the development of new hydrocarbon deposits and building pipelines". It gave no further detail.
Turkmenistan, whose natural gas reserves according to BP data are behind only Russia, Iran and Qatar, does not officially disclose its natural gas output and exports.
BP estimates show that last year the country produced 59.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas and consumed internally 25.0 bcm.
Local media reported on Monday that Turkmenistan's gas output grew by 12.1 percent in January-July compared to the same period a year ago, while exports of natural gas expanded by 16.1 percent. It gave no absolute volumes.
The Asian Development Bank has predicted Turkmenistan's 2012 GDP to grow by 10 percent, noting that economic diversification to reduce the country's dependence on energy exports and continuing the reform process remain key policy challenges. (Reporting by Marat Gurt; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; editing by Patrick Graham)
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