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IMF revises growth forecasts of MENAP and CCA countries in January Regional Economic Outlook.Reuters

The International Monetary Fund has slashed its estimates for GDP growth of oil exporting countries while raising that for several importers in the MENAP and CCA regions, thanks to the extraordinary fall in crude oil prices over the past six months.

Exporters

Oil export losses in 2015 are expected to reach about $300bn or 21% of GDP in the GCC, about $90bn or 10% of GDP in the non-GCC, and about $35bn or 8% of GDP in the CCA oil exporters, IMF said.

According to the Fund, the countries that will be most affected are Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, Oman, Libya, and Saudi Arabia.

As a result, current account surpluses are projected to decline this year to 1.6% of GDP in the GCC, while non-GCC oil exporters and CCA oil exporters will likely post deficits of around 5% and 2.7% of GDP, respectively, IMF said.

"Most oil exporters need oil prices to be considerably above the $57 projected for 2015 to cover government spending, which has increased in recent years in response to rising social pressures and infrastructure development goals," IMF's Regional Economic Outlook said.

Fiscal position

IMF said the oil price decline is expected to significantly erode fiscal positions across the region.

"Except for Kuwait, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, all countries in the region are expected to run fiscal deficits in 2015," IMF said.

The GCC fiscal surplus of 4.6% of GDP in 2014 is now projected to turn into a deficit of 6.3% of GDP in 2015; a downward swing of about 11%.

In addition, even after the reduction in oil prices, energy prices charged to consumers remain well below international prices in most oil exporters.

These 'energy subsidies' are not reflected in the budget but persist as important foregone revenue and as a reason for the exceptionally fast growth of energy consumption in these countries, the Fund noted.

The IMF has cut its GDP forecasts for the entire GCC to around 3.4% in 2015 from 4.4% in the October WEO.

In the non-GCC oil exporters, growth is revised down by 0.7 ppt in 2015 to 2.4%. In the CCA oil exporters, growth is expected at about 4.9% this year, down 0.8 ppt from the October estimates.

Importers

Oil importers in the MENAP and CCA regions are benefiting from lower oil prices but the gains are offset by other adverse factors.

For instance, slower-than-expected domestic demand growth and a weaker-than-expected outlook for growth in the key trading partner countries like the euro area and GCC affect MENAP oil importers, and problems in Russia and China affect CCA oil importers.

There are only a few countries in the MENAP and CCA regions set to make sizeable gains from lower oil prices.

Morocco tops the list with about 4.75% of GDP followed by Lebanon (about 4.25%), Mauritania (3%), Djibouti and Tajikistan (about 2.5%), Georgia (2.25% of GDP), Jordan, Tunisia and Pakistan (2%), and Armenia (1.75%).

External gains from lower oil prices in 2015 are estimated, on average, at about 1.5% of GDP in the MENAP and 2% of GDP in the CCA. the IMF said.