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

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Panama Canal, Panama Cargo(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.