IMF cuts global growth forecast and flags Middle East security worries

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Low interest rates and reduced trade tensions will likely buoy the global economy over the next two years and help nurture steady if modest growth, says the International Monetary Fund (IMF). (Screenshot/WEF)
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The International Monetary Fund released its forecast at the outset of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where senior figures from countries likely to most affect the global economic outlook will meet. (AFP)
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Updated 21 January 2020

IMF cuts global growth forecast and flags Middle East security worries

  • International economy is receiving significant boost — 0.5 percentage point of growth last year and this year
  • But IMF warns global economy continues to face array of risks

LONDON: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered its global growth predictions for 2020 despite a slightly improving world economy and warned that geopolitical tensions in the Middle East could impact global oil supplies.

It expects world economic growth to accelerate be 2.9 percent last year, rising to 3.3 percent in 2020 and 3.4 percent in 2021.

The IMF released the figures ahead at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“Rising geopolitical tensions, notably between the United States and Iran, could disrupt global oil supply, hurt sentiment and weaken already tentative business investment,” the IMF said.

The Middle East and Central Asia is expected to record 2.8 percent growth in 2020, slightly lower than the IMF's October outlook and reflecting a downward revision to Saudi Arabia’s oil output following last month’s decision by the OPEC+ group to extend supply cuts.

It expects the region to pick up speed in 2021 with growth of 3.2 percent.

FASTFACT

2.8% - The IMF expects the Middle East and Central Asia to record 2.8 percent growth in 2020.

IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said: “We’ve seen clearly a rise in geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. We still have to see how far this goes. If you look at oil prices the reaction has been fairly muted at this point. We’ve seen some increase of about 3 to 4 dollars in the price of oil but nothing very large.”

Regional tensions have escalated sharply after the killing of a top Iranian commander in Baghdad, triggering Iranian retaliatory attacks.

“Prospects for several economies remain subdued owing to rising geopolitical tensions (Iran), social unrest (including in Iraq and Lebanon), and civil strife (Libya, Syria, Yemen),” the IMF said.

Although overall risks to the global economy have reduced over the year, the IMF warned that outcomes “depend to an important extent on avoiding further escalation” between Washington and Beijing.

It also flagged the possibility of new trade tensions emerging between the US and the EU.

“The reality is that global growth remains sluggish,” said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. “We are all adjusting to live with the new normal of uncertainty.”


Egypt signs lucrative gas deals

Updated 46 min 52 sec ago

Egypt signs lucrative gas deals

  • Five agreements were signed during the last fiscal year

CAIRO: The Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) has signed eight research and exploration agreements with investments of $934 million.

Five agreements were signed during the last fiscal year and three others during the first quarter of this fiscal year.

Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla said that the integrated strategy adopted by the ministry to develop Egypt’s natural gas resources has succeeded in recording the highest rates of natural gas production in the history of the country, achieving gas self-sufficiency and resuming exports.

He said that natural gas plays a significant role in achieving economic returns, in addition to attracting new international companies to work in the field of research and exploration in Egypt.

El-Molla said a project to transform Egypt into a regional center for the handling and trade of gas and oil is being planned.

The minister stressed the importance of implementing the national project for providing natural gas to all Egyptian governorates and citizens.

Magdy Galal, EGAS head, reviewed the development of natural gas production rates during the past five years and the efforts to confront the natural decrease of wells.

He said that during the recent fiscal year, the company signed a total of five agreements. On top of the $934 million in investments, there were also signing grants worth $51 million.

He added that the company has 37 ongoing agreements, a result of a Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources strategy, which attracted new investments and the entry of Exxon Mobil and Chevron in the field of research and exploration in Egypt, and an increase in investments from companies such as Shell and Total.

He said the company is finalizing six other agreements with investments of $731 million and $14 million in signing grants.