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  • Publication
    Jordan Economic Monitor, Fall 2023 - Building Success, Breaking Barriers: Unlocking the Economic Power of Women in Jordan
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-12-21) World Bank
    Jordan’s real growth registered 2.4 percent in 2022 and has accelerated to 2.7 percent in H1-2023, compared to a pre-COVID-19 (2012-2019) average of 2.4 percent. Growth was supported by the services sector, agriculture sector, in addition to a robust contribution from agriculture. Inflation decelerated significantly in 2023, supported by favorable base effect, monetary policy tightening and lower global commodity prices. External imbalances have narrowed, supported by a string recovery in tourism activity and travel receipts. Central government fiscal balance was supported by economic growth and revenue-enhancing reforms, whereas total expenditure grew at a slower pace. Despite these positive developments, entrenched structural constraints weigh on labor market outcomes, as labor force participation continues its gradual decline driven by a fall in both male and female participation. Jordanian female labor participation remains among the lowest in the world. Debt-to-GDP ratios continues to rise from already elevated levels with persisting pressures from the electricity and water sectors. The global and regional environments remain challenging. In particular, the conflict in the Middle East has the potential for material economic spillovers on the Jordanian economy, including through its impact on tourism activity. The “In Focus” section highlights the role of women and their increased economic participation as central to Jordan’s development agenda. The piece takes a life cycle approach and follows the journey of girls and women from birth through education and into the labor market. It sheds light on two of the main barriers to women’s increased participation in the economy: childcare and public transportation. A comprehensive institutional renovation, together with enabling policies and a clear signal regarding the role of women, are all crucial in removing barriers and facilitate the integration of women into the labor force.
  • Publication
    Morocco Economic Monitor, Fall 2023: From Resilience to Shared Prosperity
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-11-20) World Bank
    The Moroccan economy is recovering. Following a sharp deceleration in 2022 caused by various overlapping commodity and climatic shocks, economic growth increased to 2.9 percent in the first semester of 2023, driven primarily by services and net exports. Inflation has halved between February and August 2023, but food inflation remains high. Lower commodity prices havealso contributed to a temporary narrowing of the current account deficit. The response to recent crises and the unfolding reform of the health and social protection systems are exerting pressures on public spending. However, the government is managing to gradually reduce the budget deficit.
  • Publication
    Yemen Economic Monitor, Fall 2023: Peace on the Horizon?
    (Washington, DC, 2023-11-08) World Bank
    The Yemen Economic Monitor provides an update on key economic developments and policies over the past six months. It also presents findings from recent World Bank work on Yemen. The Monitor places these developments, policies, and findings in a longer-term and global context and assesses their implications for Yemen’s outlook. Its coverage ranges from the macro economy to financial markets to human welfare and development indicators. It is intended for a wide audience, including policy makers, development partners, business leaders, financial market participants, and the community of analysts and professionals engaged in Yemen.
  • Publication
    Algeria Economic Update, Fall 2023: Continuing the Diversification Effort
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-11-08) World Bank
    Algeria’s GDP recovered to its pre-pandemic level in 2022, while high oil and gas prices allowed for marked improvements in its external and fiscal balances. The recovery continued during the first half of 2023, albeit at a slower pace, supported by nonhydrocarbon activity and investment. Oil and natural gas prices and exports declined in H1–2023, adding pressure on external and fiscal balances. Inflation remained elevated, reaching 9.7 percent in H1–2023, now driven by fresh food prices, mostly produced domestically. Growth is expected to recover in 2024 and 2025, while the fiscal and external balances would stabilize after an initial drop. The macroeconomic outlook hinges on volatile hydrocarbon prices, and the regional context underscores the reality of the climate risks to which Algeria is also exposed. These risks underscore the importance of sustainably improving macroeconomic balances, while continuing efforts to foster private sector-led investment, growth, and diversification. Diversifying export revenues away from hydrocarbons and attracting foreign investment would improve Algeria’s resilience to oil and gas price fluctuations. On the fiscal front, higher spending rigidity contrasts with volatile hydrocarbon revenues, generating significant uncertainty. This underlines the need to raise more tax revenues and strengthen spending efficiency in an equitable way, notably that of public investment. Consistent with the 2021 Government Action Plan, continued implementation of reforms to stimulate private sector to become the engine of sustainable and diversified growth remains essential to the performance and resilience of the Algerian economy.
  • Publication
    MENA Economic Update, October 2023 - Balancing Act: Jobs and Wages in the Middle East and North Africa When Crises Hit
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-10-05) Elmallakh, Nelly; Gatti, Roberta; Torres, Jesica; Lederman, Daniel; Lotfi, Rana; Suvanov, Ilias; Silva, Joana
    Covid-19. The Russian invasion of Ukraine. Commodity price volatility. The rise of global inflation and interest rates. Currency depreciations among indebted middle-income economies. And now, natural disasters. As a sequence of events, the consequences can be both tragic and long-lasting. After analyzing the macroeconomic prospects of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region, this edition of the regional Economic Update assesses the human toll of macroeconomic shocks in terms of lost jobs and deteriorating livelihoods of the people of MENA. Growth is forecast to decelerate in 2023 after experiencing an oil-price induced growth spurt in 2022 among the high-income oil exporters of the region. Yet as the region continues to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 shock and navigates the heightened volatility in its terms of trade, the region’s labor force is contending with the ramifications for their livelihoods of the inflationary pressures associated with currency fluctuations in some countries. The authors estimate that the macroeconomic shocks of 2020-22 led to an additional 5.1 million individuals becoming unemployed in MENA. Will these shocks permanently scar the hard-working people of MENA? The report answers this question by highlighting the trade-offs facing labor markets when facing macroeconomic shocks. A critical trade-off pertains to the loss of jobs versus decreases in real incomes, neither of which is desirable. The report advocates for maintaining the flexibility of real wages and discusses policy options to support the most vulnerable.
  • Publication
    Jordan Economic Monitor, Fall 2022 - Public Investment: Maximizing the Development Impact
    (Washington, DC, 2023) World Bank
    Despite a challenging global environment, Jordan’s growth exceeded expectations during the first half of 2022. Propelled by a strong rebound in international tourism, the full reopening of the economy, and improving exports, real GDP accelerated to 2.7 percent. However, the rebound in economic activity was only modestly reflected on labor market indicators with unemployment rates declining only gradually. Inflation has reached its highest level since 2018 but remains contained compared to regional peers, due to temporary fuel subsidies and a number of other price control measures introduced in 2022. Yet, the untargeted subsidy support came at a fiscal cost as fiscal consolidation adjustments have slowed down despite good tax performance. On the external front, elevated global commodity prices led to a significant rise in Jordan’s import bill, outpacing the effect of the increased merchandise exports and tourism. Moreover, capital and financial inflows did not keep up with the widening current account deficit, resulting in a widening of the balance of payment deficit and a drawdown in foreign exchange reserves. Nonetheless, due to its substantial reserve buffers, the Central Bank’s gross foreign reserves remained at an adequate level, while Jordan continues to retain investors’ confidence and access to foreign financial markets. Jordan’s economic recovery in 2022 is expected to be driven by a full rebound of the services sector, helped by the full reopening of the economy and a strong rebound in tourism. However, highly volatile global fuel and food prices are impacting both domestic consumption and the trade balance. Risks surrounding Jordan’s outlook include a looming global economic downturn, prolongation of the global food and energy crisis, and the impact of higher borrowing costs and widening losses from state-owned water and electricity sectors on debt dynamics. The Special Focus highlights the role of public investment as a driver of growth, with a particular focus on its recent trends, as well as its efficiency and effectiveness. This is particularly relevant given Jordan’s constrained fiscal envelope. Public investment spending has been suffering from a steady decline during the past two decades to meet the fiscal consolidation targets, consistent under-execution, large dependency on external aid and lack of budget for operation and maintenance cost. Its efficiency can be maximized by having in place financially realistic long-term strategic planning, transparent project selection and an adoption of a medium-term perspective. Purposefully integrating climate concerns in public investments would also advance the country’s achievement of its climate targets.
  • Publication
    Egypt Economic Monitor, December 2022: Strengthening Resilience through Fiscal and Education Sector Reforms
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-12) World Bank
    Amidst repercussions from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, lingering supply chain disruptions, and tightening global financial conditions, Egypt is experiencing a spike in inflation and has suffered abrupt large-scale portfolio outflows; adding pressures to the country’s already stretched public finances and external accounts. The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has undertaken exchange rate and monetary policy adjustments since March 2022 by allowing the exchange rate to depreciate and by raising key policy rates, in order to contain the widening trade deficit, capital reversal and the ensuing drop in foreign exchange buffers. In tandem, the government announced social mitigation packages. The authorities’ efforts to restore macroeconomic stability, rebuild reserves, and push ahead with structural reforms is supported by the 46-month International Monetary Fund (IMF) program, along with other multilateral and bilateral financing and investments. This report provides an update on the recent economic developments and outlook of the Egyptian economy, while embedding the analysis in long-standing challenges. It also features a Special Focus on Education Sector reforms that draws on the World Bank Egypt Public Expenditure Review for Human Development Sectors. A key message is that education spending, its efficiency, and the overall learning outcomes require improvements in order to meet the needs for robust human development, poverty reduction, improved equity, and long-term growth. According to the report, there are three key (inter-connected) priorities going forward: (1) establishing sustained macroeconomic stability and enhancing the competitiveness of Egyptian economy to ensure resilient sources of foreign income activities (exports and FDI). This requires continuing to push ahead with business environment reforms; (2) streamlining budgetary and off-budget expenditures and increasing revenues to create the fiscal space required to allocate more resources for priority areas (such as the education sector); and (3) unleashing the private sector’s potential in higher value-added and export-oriented activities to create jobs and improve living standards.
  • Publication
    Lebanon Economic Monitor, Fall 2022: Time for an Equitable Banking Resolution
    (Washington, DC, 2022-11) World Bank
    The economy continues to contract, albeit at a somewhat slower pace. Public finances improved in 2021, but only because spending collapsed faster than revenue generation. Testament to the continued atrophy of Lebanon’s economy, the Lebanese Pound continues to depreciate sharply. The sharp deterioration in the currency continues to drive surging inflation, in triple digits since July 2020, impacting the poor and vulnerable the most. An unprecedented institutional vacuum will likely further delay any agreement on crisis resolution and much needed reforms; this includes prior actions as part of the April 2022 International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff-level agreement (SLA). Divergent views among key stakeholders on how to distribute the financial losses remains the main bottleneck for reaching an agreement on a comprehensive reform agenda. Lebanon needs to urgently adopt a domestic, equitable, and comprehensive solution that is predicated on: (i) addressing upfront the balance sheet impairments, (ii) restoring liquidity, and (iii) adhering to sound global practices of bail-in solutions based on a hierarchy of creditors (starting with banks’ shareholders) that protects small depositors.
  • Publication
    A New State of Mind: Greater Transparency and Accountability in the Middle East and North Africa
    (Washington, DC : World Bank, 2022-10-05) Belhaj, Ferid; Gatti, Roberta; Lederman, Daniel; Sergenti, Ernest John; Assem, Hoda; Lotfi, Rana; Mousa, Mennatallah Emam
    The MENA region is facing important vulnerabilities, which the current crises—first the pandemic, then the war in Ukraine—have exacerbated. Prices of food and energy are higher, hurting the most vulnerable, and rising interest rates from the global tightening of monetary policy are making debt service more burdensome. Part I explores some of the resulting vulnerabilities for MENA. MENA countries are facing diverging paths for future growth. Oil Exporters have seen windfall increases in state revenues from the rise in hydrocarbon prices, while oil importers face heightened stress and risk—from higher import bills, especially for food and energy, and the depreciation of local currencies in some countries. Part II of this report argues that poor governance, and, in particular, the lack of government transparency and accountability, is at the root of the region’s development failings—including low growth, exclusion of the most disadvantaged and women, and overuse of such precious natural resources as land and water.
  • Publication
    Morocco Country Climate and Development Report
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-10) World Bank Group
    Climate change poses a serious threat to Morocco’s economic growth and human potential but with the right investments and policies in place, a more sustainable future is possible. A new World Bank diagnostic tool, The Country Climate and Development Report explores the linkages between climate and development and identifies priority actions to build resilience and reduce carbon emissions, while supporting economic growth and reducing poverty. The Morocco climate report identifies three priority areas – tackling water scarcity and droughts; enhancing resilience to floods; and decarbonizing the economy. The report also looks at the cross-cutting issues of financing, governance, and equity. The underlying message in the report is that if Morocco invests in climate action now and takes the appropriate policy measures, the benefits will be immense. Ambitious climate actions will help to revitalize rural areas, create new jobs and position the Kingdom as a green industrial hub, while also helping Morocco to reach its broader development goals. The report identifies key pathways to decarbonize the economy, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and massively deploying solar and wind power. The report estimates that total investment needed to put Morocco firmly on a resilient and low carbon pathway by the 2050s would be around $78 billion in present dollar value. The good news is that these investments could be gradual and that with the appropriate policies in place, the private sector could shoulder much of the cost.