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  • Publication
    Algeria Economic Update, Spring 2024: Investing in Data for Diversified Growth
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-05-23) World Bank
    Algeria’s growth was robust in 2023, and inflation started to decelerate. GDP growth accelerated to 4.1 percent, supported by hydrocarbon sector growth, as natural gas production compensated for successive crude oil production quota cuts. Non-extractive GDP growth reached 3.7 percent as investment growth accelerated, supported by a marked recovery in public investment, and leading to a surge in imports. Private consumption remained dynamic, stimulated by growing public sector wages, and pulling sectors serving households. Inflation remained at 9.3 percent over 2023 but moderated to 5.0 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2024, amidst a sustained decline in fresh food prices, a strong dinar, and lower import prices. Continuing to strengthen data systems would support investment and public policymaking. In 2023 and 2024, digitalization efforts accelerated, as did efforts from the Bank of Algeria and ONS to strengthen their publications, with notably the first GDP rebasing. The alternative data sources used in this report, such as satellite data on crop development or nighttime lights, represent a useful complement to conventional economic and social statistics. Yet, improving the availability, granularity, and timeliness of official economic data, most notably relating to activity, investment, and the labor market, remains of utmost importance. Enhanced data systems would support the authorities’ pivot towards performance-based budgeting and support evidence-based policymaking. They would also provide accurate and exhaustive economic data to researchers and analysts, potential domestic and international investors, alleviating economic uncertainty and fostering investment.
  • Publication
    Tunisia Economic Monitor, Spring 2024: Renewed Energy to the Economy
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-05-09) World Bank
    Tunisia’s already modest economic recovery almosthalted in 2023, amidst a severe drought, tight financingconditions and the modest pace of implementingreforms. With this slowdown, the Tunisian economy in2023 was still below its pre-Covid level, marking oneof the slowest recoveries in the Middle East and NorthAfrican region. Agriculture was the main driver of the2023 economic slowdown, declining by 11 percent asthe drought forced the government to introduce irrigationrestrictions. This highlights the urgency for Tunisiato adapt to climate change. The weak domesticdemand and the fiscal consolidation appear to haveadded to the drought-related losses, with the declinesin construction and commerce sectors offsetting someof the gains from export markets, particularly tourism.The growth slowdown–especially in labor-intensivesectors–translated into higher unemployment andlower labor force participation.
  • 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
    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
    Understanding Urban Informality in Iraq: Findings from the Informal Sector Enterprise Survey
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-07-24) Moosa, Dalal; Abdel Ahad, Joanna; Moreira, Vanessa
    In Iraq, like many countries around the world, the informal sector is a major contributor to employment and business activity. The Iraq Labor Force Survey (LFS) of 2021 estimated that more than half of the workers in the country do not contribute to social insurance, consequently informal. Recent surveys conducted by the Central Statistics Organization (CSO) and the Kurdistan Region Statistics Office (KRSO) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) found that 80 percent and 60 percent of businesses, respectively, are not registered with any public entity, consequently informal. Recognizing the prevalence of this sector and its role in people’s earning and consumption, this report extends the knowledge about Iraq’s urban informality through a new survey. The Informal Sector Enterprise Survey (ISES) was led by the World Bank, with the objective of further illuminating the characteristics of urban informal businesses and their workers. It was conducted in four key cities: Baghdad, Basrah, Najaf and Sulaymaniyah. It is complemented by two other World Bank surveys fielded around the same time: the World Bank Enterprise Survey (WBES) and the Micro-enterprise survey of 2022, both of which focus on formal businesses. The next sections are organized as follows. Section II explains the data collection process and final sample. Section III highlights the key findings. Section IV proposes some key policy and program priorities to improve the lives of the people who work in the sector and the performance of the businesses. Section VII concludes with a few remarks on the potential for future research on Iraq’s informality.
  • 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
    Egypt Country Climate and Development Report
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-11-08) World Bank Group
    This Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR) explores the challenges and opportunities of improving the alignment of Egypt’s development goals with its climate ambition. The CCDR offers a set of policy options and investment opportunities that, if implemented within five years, can deliver short-term benefits in selected sectors while also creating momentum toward important long-term benefits. The options identified in this report provide: Cost-effective adaptation approaches to reduce the negative impacts of climate change; Policy interventions to improve efficiency in the use of natural resources, and complement the creation of fiscal space to finance projects that reduce the vulnerability of people and the economy to climate shocks; Actions that can help avoid carbon lock-in through low-cost policy changes; Interventions to strengthen the country’s competitiveness while reducing negative externalities (such as pollution) and incentivize Egypt’s move towards a low carbon growth path in a manner consistent with its development objectives. Overall, the report identifies opportunities to reduce inefficiencies, manage risk, and strengthen the foundation for increased private sector participation.
  • 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.