Portugal makes unexpectedly dramatic exit from recession

GDP grows 1.1 percent in second quarter as euro zone also emerges from crisis after 18 months

Portugal has emerged from recession for the first time in two and half years, the country’s National Statistics Institute (INE) revealed on Wednesday. GDP grew an unexpected 1.1 percent in the second quarter of 2013 after 10 consecutive quarters of contraction.

The data reflects a notable improvement on the figures recorded from January to March, when the economy shrank 0.4 percent, and places Portugal at the top of the European Union for growth in the second quarter.

The recovery between April and June significantly surpassed the calculation of a number of organizations, which forecast a more moderate increase of between 0.3 and 0.6 percent. Official estimates have predicted that Portugal will suffer a contraction of over two percent in 2013.

“The significant acceleration in exports of goods and services” registered in this period and the less-marked decline of investment than in previous quarters explains the GDP increase, the INE noted in a press release.

The news came as EU statistics agency Eurostat revealed that the euro zone as a whole had at last emerged from the recession in which it has been mired for the last 18 months. It had been known for several days that the euro zone would register a positive figure in the second quarter, but the strong advances of France, Germany and, above all, Portugal took many by surprise.

However, experts warned that one good quarter was not enough to banish the specter of the crisis on a continent where at least four countries — Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Cyprus — remain in recession. “There is no room for any complacency,” said European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn. “Self-congratulatory statements suggesting ‘the crisis is over’ are not for today.”

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