(Updates with budget deficit forecast in third paragraph.)
Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Finland may have entered a recession, the Finance Ministry said, cutting its forecast for growth in the northernmost euro member’s economy.
Gross domestic product will expand 0.4 percent next year, compared with growth of 1.8 percent forecast in October, the Helsinki-based ministry said in an e-mailed statement today.
“The forecast contains the possibility of the economy experiencing a recession in late 2011 and early 2012,” the ministry said.
AAA rated Finland, which sells 40 percent of its output abroad and a third of that in the euro area, is vulnerable to the sovereign debt crisis that damps growth in the region. The Nordic country’s budget deficit will widen to 1.4 percent next year and 1.5 percent in 2013 from 1.2 percent in 2011, and debt as a share of GDP will rise to 54 percent by 2013 from an estimated 49.4 percent this year, the ministry said.
“The slowdown of growth will add to imbalances in the Finnish economy,” the ministry said. “In this situation it’s essential that measures are put in place to foster market-driven growth.”
The recovery of growth to 1.7 percent in 2013 “depends largely on domestic demand,” the ministry said. The ministry’s 2012 GDP growth estimate matches last week’s forecast by the Bank of Finland.
Weakening growth means Finland’s government must make “substantial” spending cuts and increase taxes to bring finances onto a sustainable footing, the central bank said on Dec. 15.
“If these steps are not taken in time, we could end up in a situation where we are forced to rapidly reduce the general government deficit at a time when economic growth is weakening,” Governor Erkki Liikanen said. “The deteriorating economic outlook puts Finland’s public finances in a different light.”
--Editors: Jonas Bergman, Josiane Kremer
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