UPDATE 1-Panama economy grows 4.4 pct in Jan, pace slows
(Adds details on growth, infrastructure spending)
PANAMA CITY, March 27 (Reuters) - Panama's economy grew at the slowest pace in 13 months in January, up 4.41 percent compared to the same period a year earlier, the government said on Thursday.
Expansion was nearly half of that recorded in January 2013 in one of Latin America's fastest-growing economies.
Growth was spurred by gains in Panama Canal operations and wholesale trade, despite a political spat with Venezuela which halted re-exports.
The government said the Panamanian economy will grow around 7 percent this year thanks to the construction of Central America's first metro system and a canal expansion project which resumed after a contract dispute halted work.
Panama's economy grew 8.4 percent in 2013.
The Central American country escaped the worst of the global recession, expanding at an average rate of 8 percent over the past six years, reaching double-digit growth in 2011 and 2012. (Reporting by Elida Moreno, writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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