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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Social unrest and change are sweeping through many countries in the region. While economic spillovers to other MENAP oil importers from the unrest that began in Egypt and Tunisia have so far been limited, popular protests across the region point to a need for more inclusive growth and broader ownership of the reform agenda. Unrest has clouded the near-term outlook and added to the urgency of addressing high unemployment and improving social safety nets. Over time, a more open business environment that leverages the region’s young and dynamic population would

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

The MENAP oil importers are a diverse group, encompassing both emerging and low-income economies. Many have seen significant slowdowns in the past year but, overall, these countries have escaped the substantial contractions experienced in other parts of the world. Supportive policy responses, a low degree of integration with international capital markets and manufacturing supply chains, and banking systems that had little exposure to structured financial products have contained the fallout. While the slowdown has been modest, this group of countries is also

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

many countries, emergency health spending to contain the outbreak and countercyclical policies should take precedence. Shielding affected people and firms with temporary targeted measures will need to be calibrated, cognizant of countries’ policy space . The Perfect Storm The COVID-19 pandemic represents a clear threat to MENAP oil importers. 1 Besides the potentially large humanitarian impact, the long-lasting economic impact of the crisis—including via an increase in unemployment rates which stood on average at 9.5 percent in 2019—would worsen the already

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

The MENAP oil importers are recovering from last year’s slowdown. Trade is rising along with the global recovery and remittances are holding up well. Investment and bank credit growth, although still muted, are beginning to pick up . Notwithstanding these positive developments, growth will remain below precrisis levels in the next two years. Facing high debt in several countries, governments are beginning to cut back on fiscal expansion. Persistent weakness in EU demand, appreciated real exchange rates, and competition from other emerging markets will

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

importers are increasingly susceptible to downside risks. The same conditions that make it difficult to focus on the necessary policy actions, however, show the urgency of the need for such actions to ensure macroeconomic stability, create jobs, and improve living standards. Measures that can raise employment and confidence quickly, as well as stepped-up international assistance, are needed to buttress deep reform and stabilization efforts that will lay the foundation for higher, sustainable, and more inclusive growth. Absent success, the MENAP oil-importing countries

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Despite political uncertainty, bouts of social unrest, and the escalation of the conflict in Syria, Arab transition governments have maintained macroeconomic stability. However, fiscal and external balances have deteriorated, and limited progress has been made in building consensus for needed economic reforms. MENAP oil importers’ growth in 2012 is expected to remain at low levels, associated with a weakening global economy, high food and fuel commodity prices, regional tensions, and continued policy uncertainty. A moderate recovery is expected in 2013. The