Regional Economic Reports

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These reports discuss recent economic developments and prospects for countries in various regions. They also address economic policy developments that have affected economic performance in the regions, and discuss key challenges faced by policymakers. They address regional policy developments and challenges, and provide country-specific data and analysis, including through analytical pieces on issues of interest to a particular region.

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Middle East and Central Asia region
Date: October 2014
Economic developments in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) continue to reflect the diversity of conditions prevailing across the region. Most high-income oil exporters, primarily in the GCC, continue to record steady growth and solid economic and financial fundamentals, albeit with medium-term challenges that need to be addressed. In contrast, other countries --Iraq, Libya, Syria -- mired in conflicts with not just humanitarian but also economic consequences. And yet other countries, mostly oil importers, are making continued but uneven progress in advancing their economic agenda, often in tandem with political transitions and amidst difficult social conditions. In most of these countries, without extensive economic and structural reforms, economic prospects for the medium term remain insufficient to reduce high unemployment and improve living standards. Economic activity in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) region is weakening, mainly because of the near-term slowdown and rising regional tensions affecting Russia, a key trading partner and sources of remittance and investment inflows, as well as weaker domestic demand in a number of CCA countries. Near-term risks are to the downside and tied to the fortunes of large trading partners. Policies need to focus on bolstering economic stability and, where needed, short-term support to ailing economic growth. In addition, a new model for high, sustained, diversified, and inclusive growth is needed to set the direction for economic policies for the next decade.

Middle East and Central Asia region
Date: May 2014
Growth has been tepid across the Middle East and North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) region. In 2013, declines in oil production held back growth in the oil-exporting countries. Weak private investment, amid political transitions and conflict, continued to take a toll on economic activity in the oil-importing countries. Economic growth in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) is expected to decline from 6 1/2 percent in 2013 to 6 percent in 2014, mainly because of weakening growth momentum in emerging market trading partners (particularly, China, Russia, and Turkey) and a temporary decline in oil output growth in Kazakhstan.
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Middle East and Central Asia region
Date: November 2013
The near-term economic outlook for the Middle East and North Africa region has weakened. In the oil-importing countries, many of which are Arab countries in transition, regional conflict, heightened political tensions, and delays in reforms continue to weigh on growth. In this context, the immediate policy priorities are to restore confidence and create jobs, make inroads into fiscal consolidation to restore debt sustainability and rebuild buffers, and embark on structural reforms needed to support private sector-led, job-intensive growth. Most oil-exporting countries continue to enjoy steady growth in the non-oil sector, supported in part by high levels of public spending. Although headline growth has declined because of domestic oil supply disruptions and lower global demand, a recovery in oil production is expected to lift growth next year. Increased vulnerability to a sustained decline in oil prices and intergenerational equity considerations underscore the need for countries to strengthen their fiscal buffers. Key medium-term challenges remain economic diversification and faster private-sector job-creation for nationals.
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Middle East and Central Asia region
Date: May 2013
Two years after the onset of the arab Spring, many countries in the Middle East and North Africa continue to undergo complex political, social, and economic transitions. Economic performance across the region was mixed in 2012: although most oil-exporting countries grew at healthy rates, economic growth remained sluggish in the oil importers. In 2013, these differences are expected to narrow because of a scaling-back of hydrocarbon production among oil exporters and a mild economic recovery among oil importers. For the countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia region, the near-term outlook remains broadly favorable, reflecting high oil prices for the oil and gas exporters and strong non-oil commodity prices and robust remittances in the oil and gas importers. Risks to this favorable outlook could stem from still-subdued world demand, domestic political uncertainties, and geopolitical risks in the region. Policymakers, particularly in the oil-importing countries, should take advantage of the favorable outlook to re-establish fiscal policy buffers that were eroded in the aftermath of the global crisis.
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Middle East and Central Asia region
Date: November 2012
The outlook for the Middle East and North Africa region is mixed. Oil-importing countries are witnessing tepid growth, and the moderate recovery expected in 2013 is subject to heightened downside risks. For the Arab countries in transition, ongoing political transitions also weigh on growth. With policy buffers largely eroded, the need for action on macroeconomic stabilization and growth-oriented reforms is becoming increasingly urgent. Countries will need to put in place safety nets to protect the poor and build consensus for some difficult fiscal choices. The region's oil exporters are expected to post solid growth in 2012, in part due to Libya's better-than-expected postwar recovery. In the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, robust growth is supported by expansionary fiscal policies and accommodative monetary conditions. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, the outlook remains favorable, reflecting high oil prices that are benefiting oil and gas exporters, supportive commodity prices and remittance inflows benefiting oil and gas importers, and, for both groups, moderate direct exposure to Europe. The positive outlook provides an opportunity to strengthen policy buffers to prepare for any downside risks.
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Middle East and Central Asia region Update
Date: April 2012
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is going through a period of unprecedented change. In the 'Arab Spring' countries, political transition, pressing social demands, and an adverse external environment have combined to increase the near-term risks to macroeconomic stability. These risks were contained during 2011 but, with growth faltering, unemployment rising, and continued fiscal and external pressures, 2012 will be an equally challenging year. The Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) region recorded fairly strong economic performance in 2011, underpinned by robust commodity exports and remittance inflows. Although growth of such flows is expected to moderate in the near term—reflecting a weaker external environment—CCA economies are still expected to hold up well. This broadly positive outlook presents an opportunity for CCA policymakers to rebuild policy buffers, prepare for downside risks that might materialize, and foster an inclusive growth agenda.
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Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: October 2011
The Arab Spring holds the promise of improved living standards and a more prosperous future for the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa region. At the same time, the region is witnessing uncertainty and economic pressures from domestic and external sources, which will likely be exacerbated by the recent worsening of the global economy. The main challenge in the short term will be to manage expectations while maintaining economic stability. To that end, better-targeted subsidies and transfers will help free up resources for investment in infrastructure, education, and health. Policies aimed at fostering inclusive growth will also help cement the longer-term benefits of the ongoing changes in the region. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, the economic outlook is broadly positive. Exports and remittances--key growth drivers in 2010--are continuing to grow solidly, helping the recovery gain firm momentum. At the same time, uncertainties over the robustness of the global recovery constitute a downside risk to the growth outlook. Key challenges facing the region over the medium term are to create jobs and foster high and inclusive growth.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: April 2011
The April 2011 Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia takes stock of recent developments and discusses key policy issues facing the region. Changes taking place in the Middle East and North Africa provide an opportunity for the region to lay the foundation for a socially inclusive growth agenda. In the near term, however, social unrest and surging commodity prices will weigh on growth in a number of countries. Governments are, understandably, stepping up spending to offset the impact of surging global food and fuel prices. While most oil exporters can accommodate this additional expenditure-given their projected increase in oil revenues-for many oil-importers, it is straining fiscal balances. Going forward, priorities include job creation to address chronic unemployment and, over the medium-term, more cost-effective social safety nets to replace subsidies. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, strong growth continues on the back of higher oil and gas exports and government spending. To sustain this recovery, policymakers need to address rising inflation, respond to social pressures arising from high food prices without threatening fiscal stability, and restore the health of banking systems. Looking ahead, these countries will need to diversify their sources of growth beyond mining, oil, and gas to help step up job creation and reduce poverty.
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Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: October 2010
The October 2010 Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia reports on the regional implications of the global economic recovery and presents key policy challenges and recommendations. With the rebound in crude oil prices and production, the oil-exporting countries of the Middle East and North Africa will see visible improvements in their fiscal and external balances in 2010-11. Going forward, further efforts at financial sector development and economic diversification top the agenda. The region's oil-importing countries, which include Afghanistan and Pakistan, have weathered the global recession well. Pakistan, however, suffered from devastating floods in July/August, which will hold back growth this year. The overriding longer-term challenges for these countries are to raise growth and provide jobs for expanding populations. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, recovery has gained momentum in virtually all countries, aided by the lagged effect of fiscal stimulus and a favorable external environment. Exports are picking up, and remittances are rebounding, though at a slowing pace. Despite the broadly positive outlook, however, risks are largely on the downside. A priority is to resolve banking sector problems and, in some countries, to reduce external debt and current account deficits.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: May 2010
The May 2010 Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia reports on the implications for the region of global economic developments and presents key policy challenges and recommendations. A resumption of capital inflows and the rebound in crude oil prices have aided the recovery in the oil-exporting countries of the Middle East and North Africa. The group of oil-importing countries is expected to show marginal increase in growth in response to a pickup in trade, investment, and bank credit. A key challenge for these countries is to enhance competitiveness to raise growth rates and generate employment. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, exports have begun to pick up, the decline in remittances appears to be slowing or reversing, and capital inflows have turned positive. For 2010, a recovery across the region is projected as the global economy, and in particular Russia, picks up speed. Overall, prospects for the region are improving and the regional impact of the Dubai crisis and events in Greece has been limited so far. Nevertheless, a repricing of sovereign debt cannot be excluded, adding a degree of uncertainty to the outlook.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: October 2009
The global economic crisis has taken a toll on the Middle East and Central Asia region, but appropriate policy responses have helped mitigate the impact. Looking ahead, the region’s oil exporters are expected to benefit from rising oil prices as the world economy begins to pull out of an unparalleled post-World War II recession. Oil importers, however, are likely to continue to face continued headwinds that may delay an uptake in growth. Where feasible, countries should continue to support domestic demand to lessen the impact of the crisis on the poor while maintaining a focus on debt sustainability. For the region's low-income countries, higher donor support will be needed to maintain economic development. Across the region, governments should further strengthen financial systems and be careful not to lose momentum on structural reforms. Published biannually in May and October.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: May 2009
The global crisis is now affecting the countries in the Middle East and Central Asia region, and economic and financial vulnerabilities are rising. In the Middle East and North Africa, good economic fundamentals, appropriate policy responses, and sizable currency reserves are helping mitigate the impact of the shock. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, lower commodity prices and adverse economic developments in Russia have hit hard. The report notes that countries should prepare for the contingency of a prolonged global slowdown by supporting domestic demand for a longer period and strengthening financial systems further. In some countries with rising unemployment, it will be important to target government resources and policies on protecting the poor; in others, increased donor support will be necessary to maintain needed economic development.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: October 2008
Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia underlines that the region has continued to experience strong growth in 2008, and the short-term outlook is generally favorable. However, inflation has emerged as a key issue, and while the global credit crunch has thus far had a limited impact on regional financial markets, the financial turmoil and slowdown in developed economies could lower growth in the period ahead. Policies will need to focus on tightening the fiscal and monetary stance where appropriate, with greater exchange rate flexibility, and continuing efforts to strengthen the resilience of financial sectors.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: May 2008
The Middle East and Central Asia region grew at 6.5 percent in 2007, marking its best five-year performance over the past 30 years. So far, the turmoil in international financial markets has had a limited impact on the region, and the short-term outlook remains very favorable. The report reviews recent economic developments, assesses the outlook for the coming year, and discusses key policy challenges. In addition, it takes a closer look at both regional topics--such as the rise in inflation in the GCC countries, intraregional capital flows, developments in oil markets, developments in real estate prices, and sovereign wealth funds--and country reviews for Algeria, Georgia, Iraq, and West Bank and Gaza.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: October 2007
The Middle East and Central Asia is undergoing a remarkable transformation driven by rapid GDP growth and high oil and non-oil commodity prices. The report presents common economic trends and reviews prospects and policies for the coming year in light of the global economic environment. This latest REO includes boxes treating both regional topics--such as growth in the Maghreb countries; developments in the oil markets; the boom in the GCC countries, and the impact of the recent global credit squeeze on the region--and country-specific reviews, of Kazakhstan, Armenia, Egypt, Pakistan, and the UAE.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: May 2007
The report provides a broad overview of recent economic developments and prospects in countries covered by the IMF's Middle East and Central Asia Department, and highlights the need for strengthened policies to sustain growth and reduce unemployment.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: September 2006
The report provides a broad overview of recent economic developments, and prospects and policy issues for 2006 and 2007. MCD countries are divided into three groups: oil exporters, low-income countries, and emerging markets. Countries are grouped based on the share of oil in total exports, per capita income, and access to international capital markets.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: May 2006
The report provides a broad synopsis of recent economic developments and prospects in the countries covered by the IMF's Middle East and Central Asia Department, and highlights the need for policies to adjust further to a world of high oil prices.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Date: September 2005
This Regional Economic Outlook, covering countries in the Middle East and Central Asia Department (MCD), provides a broad synopsis of recent economic developments, highlighting common macroeconomic trends and policies. In light of recent developments, the Regional Economic Outlook focuses on two topics: the economic consequences of the oil boom on the region's oil exporters, and the policy responses to upward exchange rate pressure in some MCD countries.