The most recent IMF figures come in the organisation’s World Economic Outlook report, published on 18 December. They contrast with forecasts prepared before 11 September for the IMF/World Bank annual meetings due to take place at the end of that month, but which were eventually cancelled (MEED 12:10:01).

For the Middle East region – defined as encompassing Iran, the GCC, Yemen, the Mashreq states and Egypt – the IMF has maintained its earlier growth estimate of 4.5 per cent for 2001, but cut its forecast for 2002 to 3.8 per cent from 4.4 per cent. Its growth estimate for Saudi Arabia in 2001 has been increased to 2.3 per cent from 2.2 per cent, but the forecast for next year has come down to 1.6 per cent from 2.7 per cent. The IMF remains positive on Iran’s prospects, however, with a forecast of 4.8 per cent growth in 2002, ‘supported in part by continued recovery in agriculture and strong performance in the construction and manufacturing sectors’.

The Egyptian economy will grow by just 3.3 per cent in 2002, compared with an earlier forecast of 4.8 per cent, the IMF says. The fund sees relatively positive prospects for the Maghreb states, in particular for Tunisia and Morocco.