Oil-importing countries in the Middle East are experiencing heightened risks as their budgets and external balances deteriorate, the International Monetary Fund said.
Countries such as Egypt, which are dependent on fuel imports, are struggling to recover after the crisis in Europe sapped export markets; energy prices rise; and the government spends to meet social demands stimulated by last year’s unrest, the fund said in a report Friday.
It forecast growth of 2.1 percent in the oil-importing group of countries this year, rising to 3.3 percent next year. The IMF predicted 2 percent expansion in Egypt this year, accelerating to 3 percent next year – still only about half the average rate in the five years before the 2011 uprising.
Current-account imbalances pose challenges as capital inflows weaken, and declines in official international reserves make countries vulnerable to external shocks.