Middle East and Central Asia > Azerbaijan, Republic of

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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Azerbaijan faced unprecedented challenges in 2020. The combined COVID-19 and oil price shocks pushed the economy into recession. A sizeable relief package helped cushion the economic impact from this shock, and the economy has started to recover. Yet the medium-term outlook remains subdued. The long-term fiscal position is unsustainable as oil resources are expected to run out by mid-century. The authorities have laid out strategic goals of accelerated yet sustainable socio-economic development over the next decade and are developing policy plans to that end.
Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
This paper estimates the extent and speed of exchange rate pass-through (ERPT) in seven Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) countries using monthly data over the January 1995–May 2020 period. The estimations are performed using the local projections method. We find that the average pass-through in the CCA is about 10 percent on impact and about 25 percent after 12 months. There is no evidence of asymmetric ERPT with respect to the size and the sign of exchange rate changes. The pass-through is broadly unchanged in fixed versus floating exchange rate regimes. There has been a downward shift in the speed of ERPT in the aftermath of the global financial crisis as CCA countries have entered a relatively low inflation environment. The pass-through estimates could be used by the CCA monetary authorities for inflation projections. The absence of non-linearities in the pass-through with respect to the exchange rate regime suggests that transition from fixed to floating exchange rate regimes in the region is not likely to impose additional inflationary costs.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

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 particularlyhard-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.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2016 Article IV Consultation highlights that the economic performance in Azerbaijan has been impaired by a number of negative shocks. Lower oil prices, weak regional growth, currency devaluations in its main trading partners, and a contraction in hydrocarbon production rapidly erased the large current account surplus the country enjoyed during the oil boom years. Near-term economic prospects remain weak. Under current policies, growth is expected to contract in 2016 and remain sluggish in the next few years, while inflation is expected to gradually decrease. The current account balance should improve as the devaluations work to limit imports and support nontraditional exports.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2014 Article IV Consultation highlights that recent economic developments in Azerbaijan have been favorable. In 2013, a stabilization of oil output and strong non-oil growth at nearly 10 percent helped lift overall GDP growth to 5.8 percent. Inflation remained low, averaging 2.4 percent, restrained by soft food prices and a stable exchange rate. The impact of regional market turbulence in early 2014 has been limited, with few signs of lower manat demand or capital flight. Economic prospects over the near and medium term are positive, if underpinned by fiscal consolidation and supported by reforms to spur non-oil private sector activity.
Mr. Nikolay Aleksandrov, Mr. lajos Gyurko, and Mr. Raphael A Espinoza
We study the optimal oil extraction strategy and the value of an oil field using a multiple real option approach. The numerical method is flexible enough to solve a model with several state variables, to discuss the effect of risk aversion, and to take into account uncertainty in the size of reserves. Optimal extraction in the baseline model is found to be volatile. If the oil producer is risk averse, production is more stable, but spare capacity is much higher than what is typically observed. We show that decisions are very sensitive to expectations on the equilibrium oil price using a mean reverting model of the oil price where the equilibrium price is also a random variable. Oil production was cut during the 2008–2009 crisis, and we find that the cut in production was larger for OPEC, for countries facing a lower discount rate, as predicted by the model, and for countries whose governments’ finances are less dependent on oil revenues. However, the net present value of a country’s oil reserves would be increased significantly (by 100 percent, in the most extreme case) if production was cut completely when prices fall below the country's threshold price. If several producers were to adopt such strategies, world oil prices would be higher but more stable.
Mr. Rabah Arezki, Ms. Catherine A Pattillo, Mr. Marc G Quintyn, and Min Zhu

Abstract

In the years following the global financial crisis, many low-income countries experienced rapid recovery and strong economic growth. However, many are now facing enormous difficulties because of rapidly rising food and fuel prices, with the threat of millions of people being pushed into poverty around the globe. The risk of continued food price volatility is a systemic challenge, and a failure in one country has been shown to have a profound impact on entire regions. This volume addresses the challenges of commodity price volatility for low-income countries and explores some macroeconomic policy options for responding to commodity price shocks. The book then looks at inclusive growth policies to address inequality in commodity-exporting countries, particularly natural resource rich countries. Perspectives from the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, emerging Asia, and Mexico are presented and, finally, the role of the international donor community is examined. This volume is a must read for policymakers everywhere, from those in advanced, donor countries to those in countries with the poorest and most vulnerable populations.

International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper on Azerbaijan highlights that rapid non-oil growth since the onset of the oil boom has contributed to substantial reduction in poverty and inequality. To keep growth inclusive, there is a need to accelerate economic diversification and make the nonhydrocarbon private sector a self-sustaining engine of growth. Policy priorities include strengthening governance and the business environment and improving human capital and productive infrastructure to enhance the productivity of private investment. Expanding the relatively well-targeted social safety net will ensure coverage of the vulnerable groups.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

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.