Transcript of the Middle East and Central Asia Economic Outlook Update Press Briefing

April 17, 2015

Washington, D.C.
April 17, 2015

Masood Ahmed, Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department

Wafa Amr, Senior Communications Officer, Communications Department

Webcast of the press briefing Webcast

MS. AMR: Welcome, everybody. Thank you, for attending the Press Conference on Middle East and Central Asia Economic Outlook Update. I'm pleased to introduce Masood Ahmed, Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department. He will give a short presentation, and then we'll open the floor for questions.

MR. AHMED: Thank you very much, Wafa. And good morning to all of you and thank you, for taking the time to come to this briefing; I'd like to talk to you a little bit today, to just give you our sense of where we are on the Middle East and North Africa, but also on the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia. And what I'd like to do is walk you through our basic outline for them, and then open it up for any questions that you might have.

And I'm going to do this by dividing the countries up into three groups because it's a little bit easier to get the messages clearer. First, I want to talk about the oil exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and if you like, the big message that covers their outlook is that, despite the big fall in oil prices, by using the buffers, the financial buffers that these countries have accumulated over many years, they have managed to limit the impact on growth but you do see some other impact on their budgets, on their current accounts, and also with increases, the urgency for them to begin to diversify their economies away from oil.

Then I want to talk a bit about the oil importing countries of the Middle East and North Africa, and for them, the message is that there are now after three or four difficult years, some encouraging signs. You see a pickup in the level of economic activity in these countries, and that’s due both to what they’ve done themselves, and to better international environment, but there are also some risks into this outlook, in particular the risks that come from the spillovers from conflicts in the region. I will be talking a little bit about that.

And then finally, I'd like to say a few words about the prospects for the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia. And for these countries, the basic message is that they are going through a more difficult period than they have faced since the global financial crisis, 2008, 2009. They have been hit by some very large shocks, and it has made the economic management much more challenging for them. I'll come back to that.

So that’s the sort of three groups. Let me now go to the first group and give you a little bit more specifics on that. So on the oil exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as I said, despite the slump in oil prices we expected growth for them this year, 2015, will about 2.5 percent, which is about the same as for last year.

It's a bit less than the figure which we had been projecting for 2015 before oil prices fell, so clearly there has been an impact, but in comparing it with last year it's about the same. If you look at the GCC countries, a subset of this group of countries, they are actually doing better, their growth rate for this year is going to be about 3.5 percent, and obviously there are some oil exporting countries, which are doing not so well, as a result.

And how is it that they have managed to keep up their growth rate? Well, mainly by using the financial buffers that they had built up over the last decade, so instead of financing investments and government spending from oil revenues, they have used some of the reserves they built up to continue with the same investments.

Now, if you look at the consequence of this, however, is that even though the growth implications have been limited by using the cushions, the effect on their financial accounts is much more direct, so first of all, if you look at their external accounts, you will see a substantial weakening. So, to give you number, export earnings this year, for the oil exporting countries in the region, are expected to be $380 billion lower, that’s $380 billion lower than we had expected before the price of oil went down.

And the $380 billion is almost a little short of a fifth of the size of their economies, a substantial amount for those countries. And similarly, for their budget on average, their fiscal balances are expected to deteriorate to an average deficit of 8.5 percent of GDP. So their budgets are going to be in deficit.

In fact, if you look at the countries in the region now, only two countries, Kuwait and Qatar, are projected to avoid a budget deficit this year. Every other oil exporting country is actually spending more than its income this year, and is as a result having a deficit.

Now, of course our view is that it makes sense for these countries, because they have built up the resources to use those resources in a difficult period to dampen the effect of the shock of lower oil prices, but since oil prices are expected to remain relatively lower, compared to where they were a year ago, for some time to come.

It does also mean that these countries now begin to consolidate in the medium-term their budgets, which means to say, they have to moderate the pace of spending in the medium term to be able to then have a fiscal situation, where, over the medium term, they are sustainable, and they are saving resources for future generations as well.

One way to do this and one in which they are doing this is, in fact, to begin to move on subsidies, of energy products, even after the fall in oil prices, the domestic prices for energy products in these countries, in most of these countries for most of the products, is still below the international prices, which is to say they are subsidized compared to what their economic cost is.

Now they are beginning to move on it. Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Iran, Yemen, have all moved to bring some energy prices closer to the price internationally, but there is more work to be done in this area.

And the final point I want to make about these countries, is that of course the impact of the reduction in oil prices on their economy, the large impact demonstrates that these economies are still very reliant on oil. And over the medium term, they have to become more diversified as economies. That’s one of the objectives that they have been trying to pursue for some time, and which we, in the IMF, have been supporting them with, with technical work, with analysis, with the experience of other countries, but this is something that I will become even more urgent going forward.

So now, let me turn to the oil importing countries of the Middle East and North Africa. And as I said, there are some encouraging signs here. After four difficult years, the combination of prudent economic management; and it's important to give countries credit for the fact that they have tried to manage their economies in a prudent way, in a difficult period, but also combined with a better international environment, Europe, the prospects are a little bit better, and that matters for some countries.

Oil prices are lower, and just as oil prices being lower is a negative shock for oil exporters it's a positive gain for oil importers, and confidence in these countries has also begun to pick up as political transitions have progressed further. So the net result of this is that their economic growth rate, as a group, is expected to increase from about 3 percent last year, in 2014, to about 4 percent this year.

One point I want to make on this is that, if you look at how the lower oil prices are affecting their economies, you might have expected an ever bigger impact because oil prices have gone down, and that should help them. One of the reasons why the effect of lower oil prices on the economic activity in these countries has been smaller; it's because, in fact, many of these countries have not passed through to the consumers, all the reduction in the international price of oil.

So some of the decrease in oil prices has been used instead, in our view, in a good way, to strengthen their budgets, because some of them were having a budget situation to start with, which was quite vulnerable, so they’ve used some of the gains for the budget, and that has helped to reduce their vulnerability and their debt, and as a result, you'll see some improvement in their budget situation.

Now, risks, and I would say there are probably three risks that I want to focus on. The first risk is that even though progress has been made in implementing reforms, there are still many reforms that have to be done in many of these countries, to not just stabilize the economy, but to make it grow and to create jobs, because as you remember the big issue for most of these countries, it's how to create jobs, particularly for young people since that has been one of the drivers, not just of economic but social unrest in these countries.

So, continuing with the reform agenda, sometimes after four years of difficult economic circumstances, it's difficult but it's, nevertheless, something that has to be done.

The second risk that I see as important is the spillovers from security and conflict. One of the things that’s being so visible to all of us, who have been living in, or working on the region, is how conflicts are deepening in some parts of the region.

And of course, the first and most tragic effect of those conflicts it's on the people living in the areas where the conflicts are taking place. But there's also a spillover effect on neighbors, and we know, for example, the effect that refugees, you see refugees from the crisis -- the conflict in Syria and Iraq and Jordan, and Lebanon, have been generously hosting these refugees, but it has got a financial and economic consequence.

There is also an effect in terms of trade, in terms of tourism, in terms of investor confidence, so I think that if the deepening of these conflicts could have a further negative risk for the outlook that I mentioned.

And the final risk that I see, is that the movement of international exchange rates, and in particular the strengthening of the U.S. dollar has made competitiveness more difficult for some of the countries in the region, which have been following in terms of their own exchange rates, the developments of the dollars, so I think that’s another issue that is important to raise.

I should just say that as far as we are concerned, the Fund, we are actively engage in supporting most of these countries with financial program, the technical assistance with capacity building, and of course I can give you more details on that, but our support has to be part of broader support by the international community. And one of the things that I think we keep stressing is that particularly to help countries, not just with their reform agendas, which they will require financing, but also with access to markets and trade, and finally also, financing to meet the humanitarian cost of refugees that are being hosted in countries, the international community can and should do more.

Finally, let me turn to the countries of the Caucasuses and Central Asia, and I just want to say a couple of words about these countries. And as I said, the outlook for these countries is probably more difficult today than it has been at any time since 2008 and '09, time of the global financial crisis, and they’ve been affected by two large shocks. One set of shocks is international which is the drop in oil prices has a big impact on some of these countries, which are oil exporters.

Similarly, another international dimension is the change in exchanged rates, the dollar appreciation, the depreciation of the ruble have put some pressures on them, and the second shock has been a regional slowdown, particularly in Russia, which has affected some of them, because they have a lot of economic ties in terms of remittances, in terms of trade, in terms of investment with Russia, which of course also has a slowdown effect on them.

So for this group of countries we see growth in this year, slowing down to about a little over 3 percent, which is about 2 percent lower than it was last year, and we also see increased pressures on exchange rates that have already led to significant currency depreciation in a number of these countries. And I will say that the balance of risks even to this lower outlook is tilted to the downside, and risks come from possibly continuation of the regional slowdown in some of the trading partners, China, Russia, Euro area.

Also from the continuation of lower oil prices and finally also, from a faster-than-expected tightening of the global financial conditions which might affect them. And these risks will affect the macro economy, but they will also affect the financial sector and the banks, so it's important to manage them as well.

How have these countries responded? Well, the oil exporting countries, some of them have, again, quite sensibly because they have the financial buffers, they’ve decided to spend through the reserves they have little bit like the GCC countries, they’ve decided to dip into their reserves and use them to do some counter cyclical spending.

But for them, and for the others, who haven't yet done this, this makes sense as long as you have a plan for consolidation of your budget in the medium term. So our message is a little bit the same as it is for the GCC. It makes sense to use your reserves in the short term to spend in the face of external shock, but you need to have a medium term also, that then brings your spending more in balance with what you can sustainably afford.

And for the oil importing countries, as I said, they benefited a bit from the lower oil prices, but they have had a much bigger negative impact in terms of lower remittances because many of them depend on Russia for remittances also. I'm thinking of Armenia, of Tajikistan, of Uzbekistan also. And so the lower remittances have had a negative impact, and the net combination is that their growth has actually been marked down quite sharply to about 1.5 percent this year, and their fiscal and current accounts are also feeling the strains,

So for them, the need will be to try and adjust to this new reality and to provide -- and we in the international community, and the Fund can provide support on it. And for them, also, the challenge is to then move forward with improving their competitiveness so that they can create jobs for young people, and to do this, through a series of reforms that will improve the business environment for the companies working in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

So that’s, if you like, a little big long, but the overview I wanted to give you of where we are with the three groups of countries. As I said, I'd be very happy to answer any questions that you have.

MS. AMR: Yes. Please identify yourself and the organization you work for when you ask questions. We'll take a few questions from you, and then a couple of questions online. Yes, please.

QUESTIONER: I have three quick questions -- of Al Borsa Newspaper, Egyptian newspaper. My first question is; how does the IMF assess the procedures that were taken by the Central Bank in order to overcome the parallel market for exchange in Egypt -- foreign exchange in Egypt, and also the assessment of the economic conference and its influence on employment?

And the last question, what is the role of GCC countries in Egypt, is it still major role, like in 2013? Or is it just a complementary role, in the light the decline of oil prices, and does this affect the volume of assistance or investments directed by GCC countries to Egypt? Will they be affected by the decrease in oil prices or not?

MR. AHMED: So, on Egypt, let me start by saying that there are three questions on Egypt, that the first on the measures taken in terms of trying to address the parallel, and I think our view has been that recent measures have been welcome, and they are welcome because they do try to bring about a reduction of any differential between the parallel market and the official market.

And it's important to move in this direction, to try and have a unified market, because that would help to create the basis for more investment, and better functioning of the exchange markets. And as a result encourage investment and growth.

Now, in terms of the economic conference, the economic conference, in our view, that was held and now a month and a bit ago, was a success, it was success because it attracted not only world leaders but also investors, and it resulted in significant and large pledges of investment. If you remember the numbers that were are quite substantial, in terms of investment pledges that were made, 60 billion.

And now, of course, the key will be for these pledges to get translated into real investment, and we think that this successful conference, in a way, paves the way now for a phase in which we will begin to see increased investment, both domestic and international that would help to raise growth and create jobs, and to do that of course you would need to support the flow investments with continued reforms that will improve the business climate, consolidate macroeconomic stability, and lay the foundations for the improved investments.

Finally, you asked about the GCC countries. GCC countries have played a major role not only, but particularly in the form for providing financial support to Egypt at a time when its own resources were running low. And we think that GCC countries will continue to have a major role to play. Certainly, we have not had any reason to believe that there commitment and priority to supporting Egypt is going to be a change in any way.

As to what the exact amounts are and you asked about financial support that they might provide. As to what the exact amounts are, I think this is the matter that will be discussed between Egypt and those countries and will depend also on the financing needs that Egypt has, it will depend on what other sources of finance there are that are available but certainly in terms of commitment and engagement, even at the conference itself, you will remember, that the GCC countries who were there pledged 12 billion dollars of which 6 billion dollars in the form of budget support has been there, some of which has already been provided.

MS. AMR: We have one question from the gentleman over there and then another question here.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. What are the economic impacts of any agreement between P5 plus 1 and Iran and the region economically?

MR. AHMED: Everyone hear that question? It was the economic impact that we expect of the agreement between Iran and P5 plus 1. Well our view is that this is a welcome step forward, and if the framework agreement that has been announced is indeed completed and followed through, this would have a substantial positive impact not only on the economy of Iran, but also on the economies with which Iran trades in the region and elsewhere. Now as to what is the -- try to quantify this impact, because I suspect your next question will be how much of an impact his is going to have, it's very hard to do now, because we don't really have a very clear picture yet of the sequence and pace during which the agreement could lead to a lifting of some of the sanctions that have been there. So it's hard to be able to quantify that, but it will have a significant impact. And finally, I should say to you that of course, while the agreement will have an impact on the economy of Iran, a lot of what happens to the economy of Iran will be a function of policies and measures that are put in place within Iran itself, and there, if you look at what's been happening in Iran over the last couple of years, you see that the combination of prudent macro-economic policies and some easing that has come about from the interim agreement, have led to a stabilization of the economy. You see inflation has come down in Iran from over 40 percent two years ago, to more like 16 percent most recently. You see that after two, three years of the recession, the economy this year is expected to grow by about three percent, so already you see that a combination of good policies and internationally a better environment can have an impact, but there's a lot to be done to continue with the reform of the industrial and productive infrastructure in Iran, as well as to continue with the framework of monetary and fiscal policies, which would then reinforce any impetus for a positive stimulus that would come from any improvement in the international environment.

MS. AMR: The gentleman in the second row, please identify yourself and your organization.

QUESTIONER: (inaudible), Asia correspondent, Business New Europe magazine. Mr. Ahmed, you've talked about Central Asia and Caucasus countries' dependence on Russia and remittance from Russia, and you've said that the IMF is ready to help these countries to create jobs for especially young people. And what can the IMF offer in terms of recommendations and support to Central Asia and Caucasus countries to reduce this dependence on remittance and create jobs and how can the IMF make sure that these recommendations are implemented? Thank you.

MR. AHMED: Thank you. Well, first of all I should say that if you look at the countries of the Caucasus of Central Asia, some of them are more dependent on remittances than others. In particular, as I said, Tajikistan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyz Republic, are countries that have more of a dependence in that sense. Some of the other countries, like Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, their bigger for them is to deal with the price of oil, so just to put it in perspective.

Second thing is, what can the IMF do to help these countries? Well I think the IMF can help them in the same way that we help other countries, through a combination of three things. One is that we can provide them with the technical assistance which shares the experience of other countries as they have tried to deal with improving their business climate or improving their macroeconomic framework where sometimes the instability or risks in the macro framework are an impediment for people to invest, so we do that technical support. Second, we work with them in terms of providing surveillance, which is looking at a health check of their economy every year, as a way of also identifying any risks that they face and how to manage them and third, we help them by providing financial support where there is a need for financial support to help overcome the shocks, and right now, in the countries of the Caucuses of Central Asia, we have financial support being provided through national programs that the countries have come up with in Armenia, in the Kyrgyz Republic and in Georgia, so three out of the countries that I mentioned, we already have programs of financial support. For the others, it's through the technical assistance and the advice that I referred.

MS. AMR: Please go ahead.

QUESTIONER: Sir, you mentioned how GCC oil exporting countries should be bringing a spending imbalance in the medium term. We know that there are heavy spenders on infrastructure. I would like to know the IMF view on how this kind of spending should be approached in the coming period, in terms of one, going perhaps more for PPPs, two, prioritizing between social projects and economically generating projects and third, question of raising efficiency of soft institutions as well as legal institutions.

MR. AHMED: I think it's a very important point you raise, because in many of the countries of the GCC, one of the areas in which the spending has been done has been to improve the quality of infrastructure. And I think actually one of the reasons for the success in terms of attracting investment has been the improvement in the quality of infrastructure. So I think it's very important first of all to recognize that has served a good purpose. But as we go forward, if you are going to consolidate, and consolidate is just a long word for saying, we have to reduce some spending, if your revenues are going to be lower. So if you're going to do that, we will have to -- they will have to make some difficult decisions, tough choices, in terms of prioritizing different kinds of spending, claims that they have. In general, I think our view would be that it's better in the first instance also to look at current spending, because sometimes there's current spending, which clearly is not generating jobs in the medium term, or is not improving economic activity. And I mentioned one already, which is the issue of subsidies for energy products. Whereas I said, our view is that that money can be used more effectively in other ways as well. But even if you look within investment spending, and that's what you're talking about -- capital spending -- if you look at infrastructure spending, even within infrastructure spending, you have to start making choices about where and how the impact is going to be. And one of the pieces of work that the fund has been doing recently, is to help looking at the efficiency of public investment, and ways in which we can do a better assessment of the impact of different kinds of public investment. And that's a work that I think there's a lot of interest in, in the region, for the reasons that you outlined.

MS. AMR: We're going to take a question from online. On Yemen, given the fighting and uncertainty, any update on the IMF's first review? Any contacts you've had with government?

MR. AHMED: So let me say that first of all, start with the simple and then perhaps say one word on the more difficult problem in Yemen. The simpler point is that as far as the IMF's first review is concerned, it's currently on hold until the political situation clarifies and until we can then assess the impact of the economy before we can complete the review. But I think there's a -- I want to use this question to say one word about Yemen, if I may, which is that the impact of the crisis and conflict in Yemen, which is again, first and foremost, humanitarian, the real cost is the human cost. But if you look at the economics, you see that the economy is contracting. Oil production is 40 percent lower than it was a year ago. Public spending and revenues are a third down. Reserves are down by a quarter this year. So these things are already beginning to show and they come on top of a starting position which was already very fragile. Almost half of the economy -- almost half of the people are living below the poverty line. Unemployment, especially amongst young people is running at two out of five, so almost forty percent of young people are unemployed. So this is a starting point, and on top of that, you have these deteriorations. So I want to say that I think all this leads us to really add our own small voice to the calls that people have for trying to find quickly a solution to ending the conflict in Yemen, so that the efforts that the government was already trying to make last year, to try and improve their economic situation, could be continued and bring about some relief and then a better life for the people of Yemen.

MS. AMR: If we continue the question on Yemen, same question goes on to say what is the IMF's view of regional economic impacts.

MR. AHMED: Well I think there's no immediate regional economic impact that is very large in itself, when you compare it with the impact on Yemen, so I don't want to say -- the first impact really is on Yemen. But I want to say that what is happening in Yemen, is in a way one dimension of the broader issue I mentioned earlier, which is when there are conflicts in the region, the fact is not just on the countries themselves, but on the region as a whole, and you see the effect of what has been happening in Iraq and (inaudible) its neighbors. You see the effect of what has been happening in Libya, on the tragedy that recently occurred for example in Tunisia, and you see these spillovers there. So I think conflicts in the region are increasingly a source of concern in terms of their broader consequence on confidence.

MR. AMR: We have a question from the gentleman in back.

QUESTIONER: Okay, I'll ask in Arabic language please.

MR. AHMED: Then just give me 30 seconds please.

QUESTIONER: Mr. Ahmed, the Palestinian government in the beginning of this month, started a budget, a contingency budget, because still Israel does not provide us with clearance revenues. We know that there are problems regarding the membership of the Palestine International Monetary Fund but what can you do from the economic and financial point of view, to help the government there, because the government has its -- the formation of the government was welcomed by the international community. You provide technical assistance, but unfortunately, the numbers over the past years have been declining. Unemployment is almost 30 percent and inflation is declining. So what do you have for Palestine?

MR. AHMED: Well I thank you for raising the question, because I think you've given us a chance to highlight what is a very difficult situation now, facing the Palestinian people, in the first instance, because the Palestinian economy is now facing mounting challenges. Growth is almost stagnant this year in the West Bank. Unemployment has been rising already, as you said. And this is due -- this weakening of the economic outlook is due to the uncertain political outlook, to the restrictions on transfers that you mentioned on Israel and also, to continued arrears accumulation. And the net result is that the finances of the Palestinian Authority are quite fragile and our current estimate is that we expect there will be a financing gap in their budget this year, off almost 400 million dollars, which is for them, for their budget, quite a significant amount. And that's one of the reasons why the arrears are increasing. And to close this financing gap, obviously the actions needed are going to involve many people. You know, things that can be done by the Palestinian Authority itself, there are actions that can be taken by donors, and of course, there are the restrictions that you mentioned from Israel, on transfers. And I think the Palestinians can't contain the deficit beyond the level and visage in the draft budget by limiting wage increases and close by increasing tax compliance, because it's still an issue that not all the people who should be paying taxes are complying with the tax code. Donors who have made financial commitments need to stand by those commitments and deliver on them, and may also need to consider additional support, and then again, there is the issue of the timely transfer of clearance revenues and the easing of restrictions by Israel. So all of these I think would help to deal with the issue that you raise, which is increasing fragility to the financial and economic outlook in the case of Palestine.

MS. AMR: We have one more question online. Have you devised projections for the U.A.E.?

MR. AHMED: We have revised our projections for the U.A.E. and our current projections for the U.A.E. is that it's expected to grow this year, the U.A.E economy, by about three and a half percent -- 3.6 to be precise. Sorry, I got that wrong. Just before I give you a wrong number -- 3.6 the number for last year, sorry. So our projections for this year for the U.A.E. are 3.2 percent. So 3.6 was the number for last year that I was giving you, and 3.2 is the number that we have now, and I think the number lady quoted was the number we used to have before and that's how we've changed it. Now why have we changed the number for the U.A.E, as I said, it's a little bit the same downgrading you see for some of the countries of the GCC where compared to what we were projecting, the economy is growing slower. Oil output is stagnant and some of the non oil economy growth is a little bit slower than it had been expected. And I should also say to you that U.A.E. is also one of the countries that this year, 2015, will be for the first time in many many years, running a budget deficit. And this is again the same story that I was mentioning earlier, more generally, than these countries that are spending more than they're taking in in revenue this year, using their own reserves. But unlike some of the countries, U.A.E will not be running a deficit on the current account, so it will still have a positive current account on the balance of payments, but on the budget side, there will be a small budget deficit, about three percent for the U.A.E.

MS. AMR: Thank you. Thank you all for attending the press conference. One more question?

QUESTIONER: And I'd like to speak in Arab. You have mentioned in the report of world economic outlook that the growth rate in Egypt will increase from four percent this year to 4.3 percent next year and this in its turn will contribute to reducing unemployment from 13.1 to 12.5 percent. My question is how would you make sure that this rate of growth will reduce unemployment in this way, especially that way Egypt? We have seen long years before the revolution of 25. Generally the growth was seven percent for several years and maybe for forty years we had growth at this rate. However, unemployment was not reduced because we knew that growth was not creating job opportunities. And after the revolution it is the same rate. So how would you make sure that this will happen?

MR. AHMED: Since we are running out of time I will give you the short answer. Now I am happy to give you a longer answer if you are interested, bilaterally. So the short answer is that what we have is to look at the composition of growth that is expected over the next two years and make an assessment of the, what you might technically call the employment elasticity of growth, which is how much of a particular kind of growth in a particular sector like to create, and make a best estimate of what this would mean in terms of the level of unemployment next year. Of course, don't forget also that the impact of the unemployment comes with a bit of a lag, so some of it is affecting the improvement in growth this year, not just the improvement next year. But the bigger issue you raised I think is a good point on which to end this press conference, and I thank you for that, which is that we have to make sure going forward in the region, that we are not just targeting growth, but we are targeting employment and good jobs. So it's living standards and employment that matter and therefore the nature of growth, that it is job creating, that it is inclusive, is as important as the simple headline number on growth. One of the lessons that we learned on 2011 was that by only looking at the headline numbers of growth, sometimes you didn't see behind as to whether everybody was participating in the growth and whether the gains from growth were being shared in a way that was sustainable. So I think that's a very important point that you raise and one that we're certainly very conscious of in the IMF. Thank you.

MS. AMR: Thank you. Thank you all for attending the press conference.

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