IMF assesses ‘mixed’ economies of MENA region

Sunday, November 11, 2012
IMF Headquarters in Washington DC
Dubai: The economic outlook for the Middle East and North Africa region is mixed. Most of the region’s oil-exporting countries are growing at healthy rates while the oil importers face subdued economic prospects, the IMF says in its latest assessment.

The IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia, released November 11 in Dubai, projects growth in the Middle East and North Africa region at 5.1 percent in 2012, up from 3.3 percent in 2011.

Owing to higher oil prices and production, the region’s oil-exporting countries—Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen—are forecast to expand by 6.6 percent in 2012 before moderating in 2013.

But faced with a difficult external environment, growth among the region’s oil importers—Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, and Tunisia—will register just above 2 percent in 2012. In the Arab countries in transition, continued domestic disruptions are also holding back growth.

“The biggest challenge facing governments in the Arab countries in transition is how to manage the rising expectations of populations that are becoming increasingly impatient to see a transition dividend at a time when there are threats to near-term macroeconomic stability and the margin for policy maneuver is limited,” Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, told a press conference in Dubai.
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