Greek economy grows 1.4 percent in 2017, first time in three years


Greece's economy grew by 1.4 percent last year, the national statistics agency Elstat said Monday, only the second time in a decade of crisis the eurozone nation has managed any growth.

The country's economy shrank by a quarter during an eight-year long recession, aggravated by spending cuts and tax hikes required under its international bailouts.

Debt-laden Greece managed 0.7 percent growth in 2014, but the recovery was squelched by a period of brinkmanship that nearly led to a default and the country exiting the euro before a third international rescue was agreed.

The 1.4 percent growth rate is below the 1.8 percent estimated by the government in the 2018 budget it submitted in December.

The outlook is positive for this year, with an expected growth of 2.5 per cent, Elstat said.

Growth nearly stalled in the final quarter of last year, with the economy expanding by just 0.1 percent from the previous quarter.

Greece said last Friday that EU experts have approved a fresh injection of 5.7 billion euros ($7.0 billion) under its bailout loan program, which is set to end in August.

Greece went into a financial meltdown in 2010 and has been forced to take three international bailout packages since.

The latest and last runs through August, after which Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expects the country to return to financial markets for borrowing.

The bailouts were conditioned with austerity measures, during which the average Greek income dropped by one-quarter.

Since the crisis broke, the nation's gross domestic product has fallen from 354 billion dollars in 2008 to 194 billion in 2016.

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