CEMAC is broadly benefiting from the positive terms of trade shock amidst the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine. Post-pandemic economic recovery is taking hold, albeit slowly, supported by high oil prices and the lifting of COVID-19 containment measures. External reserves have started to build up, though still short of the desired level, owing in part to costly untargeted energy and food subsidies. Global inflation pressures have passed through to domestic prices, putting pressure on real incomes. Rebuilding buffers and sustaining a recovery that protects the most vulnerable will require stricter adherence to budget and reform plans consistent with Fund-supported programs and policy advice; this will ensure that part of the oil windfall is saved. Implementation of these policies in current favorable conditions is critical to strengthening resilience in the face of rising risks, including most notably to food security, debt vulnerabilities, and tightening of global financial conditions.
CEMAC ended 2021 in a fragile external position, with gross reserves at only 2.7 months of prospective imports and net foreign assets (NFA) at their lowest level in decades, despite the availability of Fund financing, the SDR allocation, and monetary policy tightening. The terms of trade shock this year is expected to be broadly positive for CEMAC. This more favorable outlook is, however, subject to heightened external uncertainties associated with the fallout from the war in Ukraine (notably global inflation pressure, global growth uncertainties, and high oil price volatility), faster-than-anticipated global financial tightening, possible emergence of new COVID strains and risks from cryptoassets. Current high oil prices, if sustained, will help rebuild fiscal and external buffers, provided fiscal policies remain prudent. Shielding vulnerable populations from soaring energy and food prices adds to the complexity of navigating this uncertain environment, given CEMAC’s already limited policy options.
Economic recovery is gaining momentum but remains fragile amid the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and Ukraine war’s ripple effects. Despite oil exports benefiting from high oil prices, the war’s impact on prices of food and other essentials weighs on households and businesses. Over the medium term, challenges from climate change and the global transition to low-carbon economies persist. In this context, steadfast reform implementation is needed to reduce fragility through job creation and higher incomes. Debt remains sustainable but is classified as “in distress” due to arrears; a financing assurances review was conducted. Debt vulnerabilities to negative oil price shocks remain. A three-year Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement in the amount of SDR 324 million (200 percent of quota) was approved by the IMF Executive Board on January 21, 2022.