AMMAN: The World Bank (WB) on Tuesday said growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is estimated to have slowed to 2.7 per cent in 2016, reflecting fiscal consolidation in some countries and oil production constraints in others. In its Global Economic Prospects report for 2017, the WB said the failed ceasefire in Syria, the ongoing war in Yemen, the fight in Iraq against the Daesh terror group, and the political crisis in Libya were part of a continued cycle of conflict in the region that has led to mass displacement, loss of life and destruction of infrastructure. The multilateral lender said cross-border spillovers in the form of disrupted trade, fiscal pressures from spending demands related to refugees and security, and loss of revenues from tourism have caused damage to the region and had international ripple effects.
Growth slowed sharply in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to 1.6 per cent as oil sector weakness spread to non-oil sectors, according to the WB group. At the same time, output is estimated to have accelerated in Iran to a 4.6 per cent pace and in Iraq to a 10.2 per cent rate, thanks to large gains in oil production and, in the Republic of Iran, to a recovery in agriculture, automotive production, trade and transport. Among oil-importing economies, growth in Egypt dipped slightly to a 4.3 per cent pace in fiscal year 2016, as foreign currency shortages held back manufacturing and the tourism industry slowed. Morocco eased to an estimated 1.5 per cent in 2016 on a drought-related contraction in the agricultural sector, the WB indicated.