This report examines recent economic developments and regional policy issues in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). Although progress has been achieved on the integration front since 1994, including the establishment of a customs union and the creation of the economic union, the momentum of integration appears to have slowed in recent years. Progress toward convergence of the WAEMU countries during 2001 and 2002 was below expectations, and difficulties were encountered in the effective implementation of various regional reforms.
The CFA franc zone has had one of the longest experiences with a fixed exchange rate for a convertible currency and regional integration of any group of developing countries. France, the anchor country, provides aid to support the zone. This paper asks whether the arrangements are more than just an aid substitute. The paper addresses this issue by evaluating the overall performance of the zone over the period 1960-2004. The analysis reveals that when the zone is hit by a negative shock, France increases its aid, thereby acting as a shock absorber. However, it also finds that the zone displays strong performance in two areas-price stability and fiscal policy. Thus the paper concludes that the arrangements are not an aid substitute; they have real macroeconomic value for the zone and complement aid.
Mrs. Kerstin Gerling and Carlos Fernandez Valdovinos
Using a consistent dataset and methodology for all eight member countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) from 1994 to 2009, this paper provides evidence of the two major channels for real effects of inflation: inflation uncertainty and relative price variability. In line with theory and most evidence for advanced and emerging market economies, higher inflation increases inflation uncertainty and relative price variability in all WAEMU countries. However, the pattern, magnitude and timing of these two channels vary considerably by country. The findings raise several policy issues for future research.
The stance of fiscal policy in CEMAC and WAEMU is strongly influenced by fiscal effort in the previous period. This persistence underscores the risks of a procyclical fiscal policy stance, given these countries' high degree of dependence on primary commodities and exposure to terms of trade shocks. This paper finds that the coefficient of the lagged debt stock was significant and positive, consistent with the theory that higher levels of debt warrant greater fiscal effort. Various measures of economic performance, as captured by economic growth and per capita GDP, openness, and the terms of trade were also found to be important factors in explaining fiscal performance. As fiscal performance seems to be strongly affected by both real GDP growth and terms of trade fluctuations, there appears to be a need to develop supplementary fiscal-related criteria that take into account the influence of output and the terms of trade.