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Britain faces renewed recession risk

LONDON, Jan 12 – Britain, which is forecast to have exited recession during the final quarter of last year, faces a "serious risk" of renewed negative growth, the British Chamber of Commerce warned on Tuesday.

Economic data "support the view that the economy is on the brink of leaving recession, but they do not provide conclusive evidence of any robust and significant growth" in the last three months of 2009, the BCC said.

Official data due on January 26 is widely expected to reveal that Britain exited its longest recession on record during the fourth quarter of 2009.

"Unless the private sector is given the freedom to create jobs and wealth, the UK\’s economic recovery will be slower than it should be, and we will face the serious risk of a double-dip recession," BCC director general David Frost said in his organisation\’s fourth quarter economic survey.

Frost said the BCC\’s latest quarterly findings were "not as impressive as hoped" owing to a poor showing for the service sector.

On a positive note, the data revealed "strong improvements in employment and exports within the manufacturing sector," said Frost.

Britain has begun 2010 as the only top economy in recession after the eurozone, France, Germany, Japan and the United States last year each emerged from the deep downturn that was sparked by the global financial crisis.

The British economy, which is struggling with high unemployment and massive public debt caused by the financial crisis, has contracted for six quarters in a row — its longest recession since official records began in 1955.

Finance minister Alistair Darling recently admitted that Britain\’s recession would be deeper than thought — with the economy predicted to have shrunk by 4.75 percent in 2009 compared to a previous estimate of 3.5 percent.

The economy is expected to grow 1.0-1.5 percent in 2010, according to Darling.

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Management of the British economy is the key issue in a general election due no later that June, with the opposition Conservatives widely expected to oust the incumbent Labour government.

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