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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
The 2024 Article IV Consultation highlights that domestic stability has improved since the new government took office in October 2022, facilitating the passage of Iraq’s first three-year budget, which entailed a large fiscal expansion starting in 2023. The ongoing fiscal expansion is expected to boost growth in 2024, at the expense of a further deterioration of fiscal and external accounts and Iraq’s vulnerability to oil price fluctuations. Without policy adjustment, the risk of medium-term sovereign debt stress is high and external stability risks could emerge. Key downside risks include much lower oil prices or a spread of the conflict in Gaza and Israel. A fiscal adjustment is needed to stabilize debt over the medium term while protecting critical social and capital spending. Large savings can be attained from containing the outsized public wage bill and policy measures aimed at mobilizing additional non-oil revenues. Private sector development and economic diversification are crucial to ensure long-term external sustainability and foster private job creation.
Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, and Madi Sarsenbayev
Oil-exporting economies face the risk of an acceleration in the energy transition. A risk-based approach calls for urgent preparation for the post-oil era by diversifying exports and transforming the prevailing growth model. We outline the principles of industrial policy to achieve this objective based on the experience of the Asian Miracles and propose a sketch of the strategy required to transform these principles into practice. The key component of the strategy is to select sectors along two dimensions—proximity to the current production structure or capabilities set and a timeframe for results to materialize. The three strategies—snail crawl, leapfrogging, and moonshots—determine how far from the current production structure the selected sectors are. These sectors need to show results both in the short run to jumpstart growth and ensure policy continuity—“quick wins”—and the long run to create a new growth model—“transformative gains.” We argue that the strategy should focus on supporting the exports of sophisticated sectors in both manufacturing and services while capitalizing on complex tasks and activities in existing industries but should leave non-sophisticated sectors such as tourism and non-tradable services to the private sector.