Guangdong province recorded its weakest economic growth rate in 20 years in the first quarter of 2009, the South China Morning Post reported. First-quarter growth was 5.5% this year, down from 10.5% growth in the period a year before and 9.2% growth in the fourth quarter of 2008. The figures come ahead of national GDP growth numbers to be released this week. National first-quarter GDP growth is expected to be as low as 6.8%. Guangdong’s export-heavy economy has been hit hard by a global downturn in demand. However, the province maintains a GDP growth target of 8.5% this year, higher than the 8% target Beijing has set for the country as a whole. While Guangdong’s growth rate has slowed significantly, economists say that macroeconomic indicators such as industrial production and fixed-asset investments suggest a recovery could be on the horizon.