The Greek economy shrank by 4.5 pct in 2010 after a 6.6 pct decline in the country’s Gross Domestic Product in the fourth quarter of the year, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

The statistics service, in a report, attributed the dramatic decline of GDP in the fourth quarter mainly to a significant decline in final consumption spending, despite an improvement in the country’s trade balance (lower imports, higher exports).

The statistics service said the economy shrank 0.7 pct in the first quarter of 2010, by 5.1 pct in the second, by 5.7 pct in the third and by 6.6 pct in the fourth quarter of the year, compared with the corresponding periods in 2009.

The Bank of Greece expects the economy to shrink by around 3.0 pct this year, although the Finance ministry expects a stabilization of the economy by mid-year and a return to growth rates in 2012.

Eurostat also reported that the Greek economy shrank by 6.6 pct in the fourth quarter of 2010. The EU executive’s statistics agency, in a report published in Brussels, said the EU economy grew by 2.1 pct in the October-December period, while the Eurozone economy grew by 2.0 pct. Eurostat said Greece was the only Eurozone member state to suffer a recession in the fourth quarter of 2010, while only Greece and Romania (-0.5 pct) suffered a recession in the EU-27.