Regional Economic Outlook

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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October 2020

Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa

October 22, 2020

Description: Sub-Saharan Africa is contending with an unprecedented health and economic crisis— one that, in just a few months, has jeopardized years of hard-won development gains and upended the lives and livelihoods of millions. The current outlook for 2020–21 is broadly unchanged from the June update, with activity in 2020 projected to contract by 3.0 percent, still the worst outcome on record. For 2021, regional growth should recover modestly to 3.1 percent.

Regional Economic Outlook for Europe, Fall 2020

October 21, 2020

Description: The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Europe particularly hard — we project that the economic contraction in 2020 will be among the world's largest. Countries in Europe responded swiftly to the pandemic, which helped avoid worse outcomes. A decisive policy response protected incomes and the productive capacity of the economy. Across Europe, governments deployed large fiscal packages to support households and firms, with job retention programs preserving at least 54 million jobs. But the outlook for 2020 remains bleak and the recovery will be partial and uneven. We project that economic activity in Europe this year will decline by 7% and rebound by 4.7% in 2021. The recovery path is exceptionally uncertain. The ongoing resurgence of infections across Europe presents perhaps the greatest downside risk at this stage. Learn more, download our new Regional Economic Outlook for Europe.

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia

October 19, 2020

Description: Countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) region and those in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with swift and stringent measures to mitigate its spread and impact but continue to face an uncertain and difficult environment. Oil exporters were particularly hard hit by a “double-whammy” of the economic impact of lockdowns and the resulting sharp decline in oil demand and prices. Containing the health crisis, cushioning income losses, and expanding social spending remain immediate priorities. However, governments must also begin to lay the groundwork for recovery and rebuilding stronger, including by addressing legacies from the crisis and strengthening inclusion.

July 2020

Regional Economic Outlook Update: Middle East and Central Asia

July 13, 2020

Description: The Middle East and Central Asia (MCD) region has reacted to the global COVID-19 pandemic with swift and stringent measures that have saved lives. However, these policies have also had a large impact on domestic economic activity. With several countries in the region beginning reopening in past weeks, and a recent uptick in activity, rising infection numbers may pose risks. A sharp decline in oil prices together with production cuts among oil exporters and disruptions in trade and tourism added further headwinds. As a result, growth in the region is now projected at –4.7 percent in 2020, 2 percentage points lower than in April 2020. The unusually high level of uncertainty regarding the length of the pandemic and its impact on firm closures, the resulting downside risks (including social unrest and political instability), and potential renewed volatility in global oil markets dominate the outlook. The pandemic will continue to test countries’ health capacity and economic resilience. While ensuring strong health systems remains the immediate priority, governments should also focus on supporting the recovery and setting up resilient and well-targeted social safety nets. As the pandemic wanes, countries should facilitate recovery by easing the reallocation of workers and resources, as needed, while resuming gradual fiscal adjustment and rebuilding policy buffers. Multilateral support can play a key role in helping countries surmount these shocks.

June 2020

Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Economic Outlook: A Cautious Reopening

June 29, 2020

Description: The outlook for 2020 for sub-Saharan Africa is considerably worse than was anticipated in April and subject to much uncertainty. Economic activity this year is now projected to contract by some 3.2 percent, reflecting a weaker external environment and measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Growth is projected to recover to 3.4 percent in 2021 subject to the continued gradual easing of restrictions that has started in recent weeks and, importantly, if the region avoids the same epidemic dynamics that have played out elsewhere. Africa’s authorities have acted swiftly to support the economy, but these efforts have been constrained by falling revenues and limited fiscal space. Regional policies should remain focused on safeguarding public health, supporting people and businesses hardest hit by the crisis, and facilitating the recovery.The region cannot tackle these challenges alone, and a coordinated effort by all development partners will be key.

April 2020

COVID-19: An Unprecedented Threat to Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

April 15, 2020

Description: Sub-Saharan Africa is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis that threatens to throw the region off its stride, reversing the development progress of recent years and slow the region’s growth prospects in the years to come. The COVID-19 pandemic has spread through almost all countries. And as in the rest of the world, the health crisis has precipitated an economic crisis reflecting three large shocks: disruption of production and a sharp reduction in demand; spillovers from a sharp deterioration in global growth and tighter financial conditions; and a severe decline in commodity prices. As a result, the region’s economy is projected to contract by 1.6 percent this year—the worst reading on record. The economic crisis will exacerbate social conditions and aggravate existing economic vulnerabilities, while containment measures and social distancing will inevitably jeopardize the livelihoods of countless people. Decisive measures and support from the international community are urgently needed to limit the humanitarian and economic losses and protect the most vulnerable societies.

Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Middle East and Central Asia

April 15, 2020

Description: Countries of the Middle East and Central Asia region have been hit by two large and reinforcing shocks, resulting in significantly weaker growth projections in 2020. In addition to the devastating toll on human health, the COVID-19 pandemic and the plunge in oil prices are causing economic turmoil in the region, with fragile and conflict affected states particularly hard-hit given already large humanitarian and refugee challenges and weak health infrastructures. The immediate priority for policies is to save lives with needed health spending, regardless of fiscal space, while preserving engines of growth with targeted support to households and hard-hit sectors. In this context, the IMF has been providing emergency assistance to help countries in the region during these challenging times. Further ahead, economic recoveries should be supported with broad fiscal and monetary measures where policy space is available, and by seeking external assistance where space is limited.

November 2019

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