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IMF / Middle East and Central Asia Press Briefing

Release Date: 20 Oct 2020

Jihad Azour, Director of Middle East and Central Asia Department, at the IMF announced the release of Middle East and Central Asia Regional Economic Outlook on Monday Oct. 19. He said that in 2020 for oil exporters in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan, region growth is now projected at minus six point six percent and for the Caucasus and Central Asia, a contraction of two point one percent is expected driven by the region's oil importers. He also stressed on IMF’s commitment to the region during these unprecedented times.

“I would like to note that the IMF’s commitment to the region is never stronger than in times of great challenge. So far this year, the Fund has provided nearly $17 billion in financing to 14 countries in the region, increasing IMF’s credit outstanding by nearly 50 percent relative to 2019. We will continue working with authorities to provide policy advice, technical assistance, and financial support when needed,” said Azour.

Azour pointed out that the Egyptian economy suffered from slowdown in remittances and the slowdown in global trade activities that went down by 12% this year. He also advised that going forward it is important to maintain the pace of reform and accelerate the structural reform to allow private sector to be in the lead for the next economic recovery phase.

“Egypt has in the last three years introduced a number of reforms that helped Egypt gradually reduce its final fiscal imbalances, improve the broad economic situation where in 2019, Egypt was able to reach levels of growth of five and a half percent. And at the same time strengthen the monetary stability with high level of reserves at the central bank. Of course, this crisis had a severe impact on Egyptian economy. It affected several sectors, including tourism, trade and export industries. The government has reacted swiftly by introducing certain number of measures to protect lives through social and medical measures,” said Azour.

He addressed the reform program that the Lebanese government needs to work on to restore confidence and macroeconomic stability in the country especially after the port explosion that occurred last August.

“The first step is for the Lebanese government to present a comprehensive and credible reform program that helps address the economic, financial and social challenges that Lebanon is facing due to the multiple shocks that Lebanon went through. And the last one was the explosion in last August. This program has to be credible and implemented with the support of all the parties,” Azour added.

Azour also said that the Kyrgyz Republic was the first country that benefited from the IMF’s Rapid Fund Facility and guaranteed that the Fund stands ready to provide the Kyrgyz economy and people with all the needed resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The support that the fund has provided to Kyrgyz allowed also authorities to get access to other type of international assistance from multilateral institutions. And the fund stands ready to help the Kyrgyz economy and the Kyrgyz people address one of the most challenging crises that the economy is going through,” said Azour.

To watch the full press briefing, click here.

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