This paper uses an untapped source of satellite-recorded nightlights and gas flaring data to characterize the contraction of economic activity in Yemen throughout the ongoing conflict that erupted in 2015. Using estimated nightlights elasticities on a sample of 72 countries for real GDP and 28 countries for oil GDP over 6 years, I derive oil and non-oil GDP growth for Yemen. I show that real GDP contracted by a cumulative 24 percent over 2015-17 against 50 percent according to official figures. I also find that the impact of the conflict has been geographically uneven with economic activity contracting more in some governorates than in others.
Mr. Bjoern Rother, Ms. Gaelle Pierre, Davide Lombardo, Risto Herrala, Ms. Priscilla Toffano, Mr. Erik Roos, Mr. Allan G Auclair, and Ms. Karina Manasseh
In recent decades, the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) has experienced more frequent and severe conflicts than in any other region of the world, exacting a devastating human toll. The region now faces unprecedented challenges, including the emergence of violent non-state actors, significant destruction, and a refugee crisis bigger than any since World War II. This paper raises awareness of the economic costs of conflicts on the countries directly involved and on their neighbors. It argues that appropriate macroeconomic policies can help mitigate the impact of conflicts in the short term, and that fostering higher and more inclusive growth can help address some of the root causes of conflicts over the long term. The paper also highlights the crucial role of external partners, including the IMF, in helping MENA countries tackle these challenges.
countries face similar challenges to create jobs and foster more inclusive growth. The current environment of likely durable low oil prices has exacerbated these challenges.
The non-oil private sector remains relatively small and, consequently, has been only a limited source of growth and employment.
Because oil is an exhaustible resource, new sectors need to be developed so they can take over as the oil and gas industry dwindles.
Over-reliance on oil also exacerbates macroeconomic volatility.
Greater economic diversification would unlock job-creating growth, increase resilience to oil price volatility and improve prospects for future generations.
Macro-economic stability and supportive regulatory and institutional frameworks are key prerequisites for economic diversification...
The Arab Countries in Transition (ACTs) have had diverging trajectories over the past year and face an uncertain outlook.1 Improvements in the European economy, lower oil prices, and some progress on the policy front have provided tailwinds to growth, which is expected to pick up significantly in Egypt and Morocco. At the same time, unemployment remains high. Moreover, several of the ACTs have also suffered from intensifying and spreading conflicts that cause widespread human suffering and sizeable economic challenges. Libya and Yemen are directly affected, while spillovers from these conflicts and the civil wars in Iraq and Syria weigh on Jordan and Tunisia, as well as other countries in the region (e.g., Lebanon, Djibouti), Turkey and Europe. These spillovers come most prominently in the form of large refugee flows, deteriorating security, and pressures on economic infrastructures and labor markets. All these factors add urgency to the need in the Arab countries to strengthen economic resilience and address long-standing sources of inequity and exclusion. Coordinated and scaled-up support from the international community will be also critical in stabilizing conditions in the region, addressing the refugee crisis, and securing a more promising economic future for the ACTs in this challenging environment.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
KEY ISSUES Background: Yemen has made good progress since the 2011 crisis in advancing the political transition. However, the fledgling economic recovery remained insufficient to make a dent in unemployment and poverty, and fundamental reforms were postponed for fear of derailing the National Dialogue that was central to the political transition. The macroeconomic situation weakened further since early 2014, with increased sabotage of oil facilities leading to a decline in oil revenue and, therefore, a deterioration in the fiscal and external positions and severe fuel and electricity shortages. To address the difficult economic situation, the authorities have adopted a bold reform agenda to preserve macroeconomic stability and set the stage for boosting growth, employment creation, and poverty alleviation. They requested Fund support under an ECF arrangement with access of 150 percent of quota in consideration of the strength of the reforms and large financing needs. Outlook and Risks: Growth and other macroeconomic indicators are projected to improve steadily over the medium term as a result of the reform efforts and improvements in security. Institutional capacity constraints and/or deterioration in security or the political environment could delay reform implementation, in particular energy subsidy reforms. Such delays could destabilize the economy and necessitate even stronger adjustments later on. Policy Discussions: Discussions focused mainly on sequencing and speed of reforms in view of the large financing needs of the budget. Since the successful implementation of the RCF in 2012, there has been an ongoing dialogue with the authorities and a broad agreement on priority reforms, with differences of views on the timing and feasibility of the various reforms during the political transition. After the recent progress achieved in advancing political transition, and the increased economic challenges, the authorities have decided to move ahead with a strong reform program. The program aims to reduce the fiscal deficit to more manageable levels and reorient public spending from generalized subsidies to infrastructure investment and direct social transfers, with the objective to generate growth and employment and better benefit the poor. The authorities also agreed with staff on the need to improve fiscal performance by eliminating ghost workers and double dippers from the civil service payroll, and by increasing nonhydrocarbon revenue. Other agreed reforms aim at ensuring financial sector soundness and improving intermediation and the business environment to support growth and job creation. Other Article IV Issues: An updated debt sustainability analysis indicates that the risk of debt distress continues to be moderate. Plans to introduce fiscal federalism need to ensure appropriate expenditure and debt-contracting policies and controls. A gradual increase in exchange rate flexibility over the medium term would help protect competitiveness and reserves, and would support growth and job creation. More efforts are needed to further improve economic data and to strengthen capacity in AML/CFT.
Since the onset of the Arab Spring, economic uncertainty in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen (Arab Countries in Transition, ACTs) has slowed already sluggish growth; worsened unemployment, particularly of youth; undermined business confidence, affected tourist arrivals, and depressed domestic and foreign direct investment. Furthermore, political and social tensions have constrained reform efforts. Assessing policy options as presented in the voluminous literature on the Arab Spring and based on cross-country experience, this paper concludes that sustainable and inclusive growth calls for a two pronged approach: short term measures that revive growth momentum and partially allay popular concerns; complemented with efforts to adjust the public’s expectations and prepare the ground for structural reforms that will deliver the desired longer tem performance.