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Russia's inflation in 2009 could hit 13% - finance minister

HONG KONG, January 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's consumer prices could grow 13% in 2009, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said at the Asian Financial Forum on Monday.

In 2008, Russia's inflation reached 13.3%, according to Russia's state statistics service, Kudrin said on the first day of the two-day forum in Hong Kong.

"We expected it [inflation] to fall to 11%, but in connection with [the ruble's] devaluation which will affect the growth of prices for imports, we now expect it to be around 13%," said Kudrin, who is also a deputy prime minister.

The Asian Financial Forum is hosting a discussion on the global financial and economic crisis. The chairman of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, bank and investment fund officials, as well as economists from Asia and Australia are taking part.

Russia has sent delegates from the Foreign Ministry, VTB, Russia's second-largest bank, the Russian-Chinese business council, and a number of other banks.

The Russian finance minister described his country's plans to tackle problems arising from the crisis, and stressed the role of China in the global economy, as well as the necessity of cooperation.

He said Russia planned to invest $8 billion in its Far Eastern region in the next four years, and that trade with neighboring Asian countries would also be boosted.

Kudrin said Russia's economic growth was forecast to reach 0%-2% in 2009. He also said the country plans to further liberalize its economy, while strengthening state control in some spheres, adding that moves to enhance transparency should also boost investor confidence.

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