Medium-term economic growth prospects in the Caucasus and Central Asia region are strong. But, to secure ongoing prosperity, the eight countries of the region—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—will need to look beyond traditional sources of growth. The challenge for policymakers will be to foster new and more diverse growth drivers, outside mining, oil, and gas. There are seven policy pillars that can help them do that, including strengthening economic and financial ties within the region.
For the six oil-importing countries in the Middle East and North Africa region—Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia—high unemployment is a chronic problem. Averaging above 10 percent for the past two decades, unemployment rates here are among the highest in the world. And, youth unemployment is even more alarming at over 20 percent. Given the enormous economic and social costs of unemployment, the region can no longer afford the status quo. These countries need to create about 18? million full-time jobs over the next decade to provide employment for young people looking for their first job and to bring down unemployment. But, why is unemployment chronically high? And what needs to be done to fix it?
With the global economy on the mend, countries in the Middle East and North Africa are witnessing a pickup in trade and economic growth. But, within the region, the picture is mixed. Indeed, for the region’s oil-importing countries, we are likely to see growth nudge up from 4½ percent in 2009 to around 5 percent this year. However, that is well below the growth rate required to create the 18 million jobs needed over the next decade. For these countries, greater competitiveness will be the crucial ingredient to boosting economic growth and employment. In this blog post, Masood Ahmed explores what we mean by ‘competitiveness’ and what are the policy actions governments need to take to raise it.
Continuing my travels through Asia for the launch of our latest Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific, I am writing to you today from Singapore. Last week, I wrote about the near-term outlook for Asia. Today, I turn to the key medium-term challenge—an issue emphasized by G-20 ministers over the weekend—the need to rebalance economic growth. For much of Asia, this means shifting away from heavy reliance on exports by strengthening domestic sources of growth. While much of the discussion on this issue has focused on ways to increase consumption, the role of investment is equally important and should not be overlooked.
The IMF has just finished its Annual Meetings in Istanbul, the traditional start of the old silk road and the gateway to Central Asia. Strategically located between East Asia and Europe, and South Asia and Russia, Central Asia is rich in resources and faces tremendous opportunities—yet to be made the most of.