Non-resident capital inflows to the MENA region are projected to rise from $165bn last year to $200bn in 2019 before moderating to $173bn in 2020. With the increasing inflows, inclusion into global indices, and ongoing reforms, the MENA region is becoming more prominent on the EM investment map.
We expect growth in the MENA region to slow to 1.4% in 2019 from 1.8% in 2018, dragged down by the deep recession in Iran and the compliance with the OPEC + deal. This aggregate picture, however, hides considerable heterogeneity in economic paths across the region.
Egypt has successfully completed the 3-year EFF arrangement with the IMF. Growth has accelerated, unemployment has decreased, the twin deficits have narrowed, core inflation has fallen, and the public debt ratio has started to decline.
We still expect Brent oil prices to average $65/b in 2019 and $62/b in 2020. Growth in non-OPEC supply combined with deceleration in global oil demand growth in 2019 and 2020, is offsetting upward pressure on oil prices from rising geopolitical tensions that could disrupt supply.
Egypt is making good progress on economic reforms in the context of an IMF-supported program. However, to sustain the progress and to lift the growth trajectory durably over the long term, deeper and more fundamental reforms are urgently needed.