UPDATE 2-Peru growth seen slowing to 5.5 to 5.6 pct in 2013-cenbank
AREQUIPA, Peru, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Peru's economic growth is expected to ease this year to around 5.5 percent to 5.6 percent, the head of the central bank said on Tuesday, also predicting that the South American country will end the year with a $666 million trade deficit.
In 2012, Peru registered growth of 6.3 percent, one of the fastest rates in the region. Growth has slipped on weaker mineral exports and slightly softer domestic demand.
Central bank chief Julio Velarde told a meeting of mining company executives that he expects Peru's economy to expand 6 percent in the second half of this year. In the first seven months of 2013 the economy grew 5 percent.
Peru is the world's third biggest copper exporter, second biggest silver exporter, and sixth largest gold exporter.
Softer demand from big buyers like China and lower global prices for minerals this year have hurt trade, with the country posting a record $550 million trade deficit in July.
"It is this trend in the external sector that has pulled growth down," Velarde said.
The central bank and government both now expect Peru to post trade deficits this year and next for the first time in more than a decade.
The government said this week that July economic growth was a lower-than-expected 4.5 percent.
"The July figure surprised us," Velarde said. "The indicators we had pointed to higher growth."