Brazil expects to return to GDP growth in 2017: finance minister

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[March 16, 2017]  FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Brazil's government expects the country to return to economic growth this year, ending the nation's longest and deepest downturn on record, Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles said on Thursday.

Brazil's Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles attends an interview with Reuters in Brasilia, Brazil, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

"We will announce (a GDP forecast) next week. What we can say (is) it's positive growth," Meirelles said on the sidelines of a banking conference in Frankfurt. "The first quarter will be a positive number," he said, adding that Brazil would also return to growth in the full year 2017.

Brazil's gross domestic product contracted by 3.6 percent last year, statistics agency IBGE said earlier this month, following a 3.8 percent drop in 2015.

Meirelles also said that if any further budget cuts should be decided they will amount to only a very small percentage of the total budget. He added that taxes my be hiked if necessary. "But there is no decision (yet)," he said.

(Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Christoph Steitz)

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