IMF Fall 2017 Regional Economic Outlook Embraces Innovation and Technology in the Financial Sector

Press release
Published October 31st, 2017 - 09:05 GMT
Salmaan Jaffrey, DIFC Authority CBDO
Salmaan Jaffrey, DIFC Authority CBDO

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading financial hub in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region (MEASA), hosted today the launch of the Fall 2017 Regional Economic Outlook (REO) for the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan (MENAP), in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The semi-annual Regional Economic Outlook report details trends and developments across countries of the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan (MENAP) and the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA). The report’s sectoral indicators are widely used as a benchmark for future economic projections and set the tone for growth, trade and investment.

The IMF’s report found that despite the strengthening global recovery, MENAP’s growth outlook remains relatively subdued, although there are some important differences across oil exporting and importing countries.

In MENAP oil-exporters, non-oil growth is expected to recover to about 2.6 percent in 2017 as fiscal consolidation generally slows. However, the agreed reduction in oil output under the extended OPEC-led agreement means overall growth will bottom out at 1.7 percent in 2017.

Growth in oil importers, on the other hand, is expected to rise to 4.3 percent this year, supported by the strengthening domestic demand and the recovery of the global economy.

Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority said this occasion, “Long-standing strategic collaborations, such as the one we have with the IMF, symbolise DIFC’s commitment to driving sustainable development across the region’s economies. The report highlights the growing need for structural reform in the region, which reaffirms the importance of quickly adapting to an innovative financial future.

On the subject of change and adaptation, the MEASA region is undergoing tremendous transformations and is poised to shape the future of finance and financial innovation. The combination of technology, innovation and smart policy making must be embraced by the financial sector across emerging and developing economies.

By providing an established platform for firms to tap into transformational opportunities throughout MEASA, the DIFC is ever more committed to the advancement of the region’s financial infrastructure.”

Jihad Azour, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, outlined key findings from the report, stressing that countries should seize the global upswing to implement needed structural reforms. Improving the business environment, increasing access to credit and modernising labor markets will help boost growth and create private sector jobs. This will be critical with millions of new jobseekers expected over the coming years”.

Jihad Azour subsequently joined a panel consisting of Monica Malik, Chief Economist, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank; Alia Moubayed, Director of Geo-economics and Strategy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies; and Salmaan Jaffery, Chief Business Development Officer at DIFC Authority. Moderated by CNN’s John Defterios, the panel took a closer look at the Report, whilst taking questions from the audience.

In comments to the panel, Jihad Azour, said: “Growth is forecast to accelerate in most oil importers, supported by domestic demand and exports. However, this pace of growth will be insufficient to generate enough jobs to absorb those who are currently unemployed, as well as the millions of job seekers who will enter the labour market over the medium term. Bold structural reforms should be accelerated to enhance private sector activity and foster a more dynamic, competitive, and inclusive economy. Labour market and education reforms, improving productivity, and enhancing access to finance will be critical.”

Background Information

Dubai International Financial Center

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is one of the world’s most advanced financial centres, and the leading financial hub for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), which comprises 72 countries with an approximate population of 3 billion and a nominal GDP of US$ 7.7 trillion.

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