Mideast, Central Asian economies to grow

Washington, October 9:

Economies in the Middle East and Central Asia are set to remain strong, but a worsening of the security situation could severely dent growth, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report stated.

Growth across the region is outpacing the global economy, but cautioned that a worsening of Iraq’s ‘security problems’ for example would likely have a negative impact on neighboring countries and their economies. “Economic pe-rformance in the Middle East and Central Asia region remains strong, despite security problems in some countries and recent asset price reversals,” the fund said in its Regional Economic Outlook.

“Growth in the region continues to outpace global growth and should average six-to-seven per cent in 2006 and 2007,” the IMF said. The IMF estimates the region’s economic growth will expand to 6.6 per cent in 2006 from 6.3 per cent in 2005, before slowing to 6.2 per cent in 2007. “Inflation continued to edge up in 2005, averaging 7.25 per cent, but appears to have stabilised in the first half of 2006,” the report noted.

The outlook also highlig-hted ongoing security concerns. It stated that Iraq, where thousands of American troops are still fighting a violent insurgency, in particular is facing critical economic challenges.