Regional Economic Outlook

Trade-Offs Today for Transformation Tomorrow

Middle East and Central Asia, October 2021

A fragile recovery continues in the Middle East and Central Asia region.

Regional Economic Outlook Update: Middle East and Central Asia
The region has made good progress since the beginning of the year, but new challenges have emerged. They include a pandemic wave in countries with weak vaccination progress and rising inflation, which has contributed to declining monetary policy space, adding to the difficulties posed by limited fiscal policy space. Additionally, divergent recoveries and concerns about economic scarring persist. Inequities are also on the rise, and countries will need to tackle the pandemic’s impact on debt, labor markets, and the corporate sector. Countries will face difficult tradeoffs amid this challenging environment as they continue to manage the current crisis. Ramping up vaccine acquisition and distribution remains the most urgent short-term priority. Additional support should be well targeted, and central banks may need to raise interest rates if inflation expectations start to increase. Improving policy frameworks will be important to reduce policy tradeoffs. Preparing for a new chapter by investing in a transformational recovery will be vital to the region’s future. Important priorities include reorienting the role of the state toward health, education, and social safety nets; leveraging global trends like digitalization; and investing in climate-resilient technology.

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