The IMF has called on the countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to implement reforms aimed at maintaining macroeconomic stability in their economies, as some of these countries undergo political, social and economic transitions. In a 21 May update of its economic outlook in the region, the IMF said that while growth rates in regional oil exporters are projected to moderate in 2013, growth in oil importers is expected to improve slightly.

For the oil exporters the IMF said that 2012 saw robust real GDP growth of 5.7%, supported by the almost complete restoration of Libya’s oil production and strong expansions in the GCC countries. However overall growth is projected to fall to about 3.2% in 2013, as “oil production growth pauses in the context of subdued global demand.” The IMF notes that high hydrocarbon export volumes and prices allowed the oil exporters to accumulate current account surpluses of about $440bn in 2012, which is projected to fall to $370bn in 2013. But despite these balance of payments surpluses and robust growth, inflation is expected to fall from high rates or remain moderate in most oil exporting countries, the IMF says. The key exception is Iran, where the sharp depreciation of the local currency and “difficult external and macroeconomic environment are expected to keep inflation pressures high.” The IMF also warns that lower global economic activity would likely result in lower oil prices, which could be below the level required to balance the budgets of most oil exporters. (CONTINUED - 577 WORDS)