IMF sees long-term opportunities for MENA region despite short-term challenges.

By bne IntelliNews April 28, 2011
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to provide an opportunity for the establishment of a socially inclusive and more dynamic growth model but in the near future countries will be facing challenges, the fund said in its April 2011 Regional Economic Outlook for MENA, Afghanistan and Pakistan (MENAP). Short-term pressures will stem from rising commodity prices and disruptions to economic activity so countries need to address unemployment and improve social safety nets, Masood Ahmed, director of the IMFs Middle East and Central Asia Department, said. In the long run, the uprisings might give a boost to the MENA economies by establishing a more inclusive growth agenda, improving governance and providing more equal opportunities for its young and growing population. The economies of the oil-exporting countries are expected to expand by 4.9% in 2011, excluding Libya, owing largely to higher oil prices and oil production, while oil importers are set to grow by only 2.3%. The combined external current account balance for regional oil exporters will more than double to USD 380bn this year. As for oil importers, internal and external pressures will inflate their import bill by about USD 15bn, or nearly 3% of their GDP on average, the IMF said.

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