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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The MENAP oil exporters were directly affected by the global financial crisis through a sharp drop in oil prices, a contraction in the global economy, and a sudden drying up of capital inflows. Although activity in the oil sector will likely drop by 3.5 percent in 2009, strong countercyclical macroeconomic policies have helped mitigate the impact of the crisis on the non-oil sector, which is projected to grow by 3.2 percent. Looking ahead, higher oil prices, a revival of global demand, and continued government spending will provide the basis for stronger growth in 2010. The crisis also revealed some vulnerabilities in the banking and corporate sectors, requiring countries to undertake exceptional stabilization measures and highlighting the need to strengthen financial sector supervision, enhance corporate governance, foster resource mobilization, and diversify risks.

Mr. Manuel Guitián and Saleh M. Nsouli

Abstract

Currency convertibility—defined in the broadest sense as the right to convert freely and without limit a currency into any other at the prevailing exchange rate—is the linchpin of today’s globalized world economy. To assess the importance of convertibility, it is only necessary to point out that a system of well-managed convertible national currencies imparts to the international arena advantages analogous to those resulting from the introduction of money in a national economy, most notably, the elimination of barter (and the need for coincidence of needs) as a basis for international trade and the provision of an instrument for the development of financial markets.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The MENAP oil importers are a diverse group, encompassing both emerging and low-income economies. Many have seen significant slowdowns in the past year but, overall, these countries have escaped the substantial contractions experienced in other parts of the world. Supportive policy responses, a low degree of integration with international capital markets and manufacturing supply chains, and banking systems that had little exposure to structured financial products have contained the fallout. While the slowdown has been modest, this group of countries is also likely to experience a slow recovery. Limited external financing, little space for fiscal stimulus, a real appreciation of most domestic currencies, sluggish receipts from tourism and remittances, and higher energy prices will all continue to be a drag on growth for some time.

Abstract

It is an honor and a genuine pleasure for me to deliver the opening remarks today for this seminar on currency convertibility. I wish, first of all, to welcome you to Marrakesh, a city with a rich cultural heritage and a wealth of tourist attractions. I also wish to thank the authorities of the Arab Monetary Fund and the International Monetary Fund for choosing to hold this seminar in the Kingdom of Morocco. In addition, I would like to express our appreciation to Mr. Osama Faquih, Director General and Chairman of the Board of the Arab Monetary Fund, who has honored us by attending and participating personally in this important event, and to congratulate him on his election as President of the Islamic Development Bank. Furthermore, I wish to extend greetings to the senior officials from the participating countries. Their presence demonstrates the interest and importance that the Arab countries’ monetary authorities accord to the topics to be discussed during this seminar.

Mr. Manuel Guitián

Abstract

Currency convertibility has always been a fundamental notion in international economic relations. Yet, since the abandonment of the Bretton Woods par value regime, a remarkable degree of silence has until recently surrounded the subject. Possibly this silence is related to the advent and prevalence of flexible exchange rate arrangements that followed the Bretton Woods order. The reason could be that, in theory, flexible exchange rates would make exchange and other restrictions unnecessary or redundant; and, therefore, under such exchange rate arrangements currencies would be convertible by definition, so to speak. But as is often the case, what can be expected in principle does not always materialize in practice; exchange, payments, and other international restrictions have continued to prevail in the period of flexible exchange rates and, therefore, questions of currency convertibility have remained open.