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Mr. Christian H. Beddies, Mr. Enrique A Gelbard, Mr. James McHugh, Ms. Laure Redifer, and Mr. Garbis Iradian

Abstract

This chapter reviews Armenia’s growth performance and poverty indicators since the early 1990s. It seeks to respond to the following four questions: What were the sources of growth? Can the recent rapid growth be sustained? How responsive was poverty reduction to economic growth? What is the minimum annual growth needed for Armenia to reach its poverty target by 2015? The analysis is based on a growth accounting exercise and the results of recent household surveys.

Mrs. Harinder K Malothra, Mr. Milan M Cuc, Mr. Ulrich Bartsch, and Mr. Menachem Katz

Abstract

In this chapter, we present the structure of institutions that oversee the oil sector. After reviewing the legal framework, we discuss the role of national oil companies.

Mr. Christian H. Beddies, Mr. Enrique A Gelbard, Mr. James McHugh, Ms. Laure Redifer, and Mr. Garbis Iradian

Abstract

Fiscal consolidation has been the cornerstone of Armenia’s successful stabilization. Between 1995 and 2000, the fiscal adjustment was primarily an expenditure-based phenomenon, and the quasi-fiscal sectors (energy, water, and irrigation) remained a major source of subsidies, arrears, and contingent liabilities. By 2000, Armenia still had a sizable fiscal deficit, a weak tax base, and a large stock of domestic and external expenditure arrears. Since 2001, the authorities have renewed their efforts to rein in lax expenditure controls and fiscal and quasi-fiscal deficits. From the point of view of fiscal consolidation and macroeconomic stability, these policies were remarkably successful. Fiscal deficits declined, debt sustainability indicators improved, and both domestic and external expenditure arrears were eliminated. Furthermore, the quasi-fiscal deficit was progressively reduced.

Mrs. Harinder K Malothra, Mr. Milan M Cuc, Mr. Ulrich Bartsch, and Mr. Menachem Katz

Abstract

The fact that oil-producing countries in Africa have not achieved better social indicators than other African countries gives rise to the question of whether this was despite or because of the inflow of billions of U.S. dollars in foreign investment in oil installations, and government oil revenue. The persistent underachievement of development goals has come to be seen as the “resource curse.” This paper has shown, however, that macroeconomic policies and governance can be designed in a way that turn oil revenue into a “blessing.”

Mr. Sanjeev Gupta and Yongzheng Yang

Abstract

RTAs have been proliferating exponentially throughout the world. Nearly all countries now participate in at least one RTA, and approximately 300 RTAs, both bilateral and plurilateral, are now in force.3 A sequence of events—the failure to launch a round of multilateral trade talks in Seattle in 1999, their short-lived recovery after the Doha ministerial meeting in 2001, and an impulsive breakdown in Cancún in 2003—has sparked a renewed enthusiasm for preferential arrangements.

Mr. Christian H. Beddies, Mr. Enrique A Gelbard, Mr. James McHugh, Ms. Laure Redifer, and Mr. Garbis Iradian

Abstract

Armenia’s high growth rates over the past three years have been fueled by fast-growing exports, donor inflows, remittances, and FDI. Strong export-led growth is rather surprising in a country that lacks natural resources, has been subject to a trade blockade from two important neighbors, and has poor transportation routes. This chapter analyzes changes in Armenia’s trade patterns in recent years, the role of government policies, the success of the diamond industry, and the costs and consequences of the trade blockade.

Mr. Sanjeev Gupta and Yongzheng Yang

Abstract

Over the past decades, African countries have set ambitious goals for their regional trade arrangements, but the results have so far fallen short of expectations. Most African RTAs started with a low level of intraregional trade. Thus, even if the RTAs had been more successfully implemented, the impact of these arrangements on Africa’s overall trade would have been small—unless they had created a more favorable environment for overall trade. The potential of the RTAs in exploiting economies of scale and enhancing competition has been limited by the lack of trade complementarity among RTA partners, small market size, poor transport infrastructure, and high trading costs at the border. More important, relatively high barriers against trade with the rest of the world have essentially turned RTAs into an import substitution policy at the regional and subregional levels.

Mrs. Harinder K Malothra, Mr. Milan M Cuc, Mr. Ulrich Bartsch, and Mr. Menachem Katz

Abstract

Oil-exporting countries have used a variety of exchange rate arrangements, as shown in Figure 9. At the end of 2001, about 18 of the 29 oil-producing IMF member countries (excluding the former Soviet bloc countries) used some form of fixed exchange rate regime, while 11 opted for either managed or independent floating. This suggests that, in practice, the choice of an exchange rate arrangement is not a straightforward exercise; instead, exchange rate policy has to be based on country-specific considerations, including the relative openness of the economy, in terms of both current and capital accounts, and the relative prevalence of real or nominal shocks. Exchange rate policy will also have to take into account the monetary policy and institutional framework in which it is set.18 This subsection describes first general considerations, then potential advantages of flexible exchange rates, and finally policies in support of fixed exchange rates.

Mr. Sanjeev Gupta and Yongzheng Yang

Abstract

The discussion so far highlights the need to take a broad perspective in thinking about how to make African RTAs work better. Careful design and sustained implementation are necessary to make any RTA deliver, but the more fundamental determinants of RTA performance seem to be policies and conditions that affect the overall environment for trade. In this context, MFN liberalization, improvements in regional infrastructure (particularly transport), and reductions in trading costs at borders are critical. These are all conventional development issues but nonetheless pose difficult challenges for African policymakers. African countries need to protect their revenue base in undertaking MFN tariff reductions, and, when such tariff cuts are implemented in their trading partners, they need to address the consequence of preference erosion.34 Efforts to improve infrastructure and reduce trading costs will require adequate local capacity of implementation, in addition to financial resources. In all these areas, the IMF can lend its support to African countries, beyond its core expertise area of macroeconomic management, which is also essential to create a conducive environment for trade.

Mr. Michael Keen

Abstract

One of the great ironies of intellectual history is that Adam Smith, the apostle of free trade, ended his days as a Comptroller of Customs. By the same token, it may seem strange that the International Monetary Fund (IMF), committed to the principles of free trade, should devote a good deal of its technical assistance activities to strengthening the performance of customs administrations. In each case, however, the explanation is easily found. For Smith, the position of Comptroller at Kircaldy, a post his father had also held, was an attractive sinecure (as customs posts continue to be in all too many countries). For the IMF, the support of improvement in customs administration reflects the recognition that although customs administration would wither away in an ideal world, in practice trade taxes are likely to be a significant source of revenue for many of its members, especially developing countries, for the foreseeable future; and that if trade taxes are to be levied, it is best that this be in a way that does least collateral damage to international trade flows.