DUBAI: The International Monetary Fund said on Sunday Middle East economies were lagging below growth projections due to oil production cuts and the Israel-Gaza conflict, even as the global economic outlook remained resilient.
Despite uncertainties, "the global economy has been surprisingly resilient," IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva told the Arab Fiscal Forum in Dubai, while warning of a potential wider impact on regional economies of continued conflict in Gaza.
In a regional economic report last month, the IMF revised its GDP growth forecast for the Middle East and North Africa down to 2.9% this year, lagging below October projections, due in part to short term oil production cuts and the conflict in Gaza.
The IMF last month edged its forecast for global economic growth higher, upgrading the outlook for both the United States and China and citing faster-than-expected easing of inflation.
Georgieva said economies neighbouring Israel and the Palestinian territories saw the conflict weighing on tourism revenues, while Red Sea attacks weighed on freight costs globally.
Those factors compounded "the challenges of economies that are still recovering from previous shocks," she told the forum on the sidelines of the World Governments Summit in Dubai.
The Houthis in Yemen have been targeting commercial vessels with drones and missiles in the Red Sea since mid-November, and say their attacks are in solidarity with Palestinians as Israel strikes Hamas militants in Gaza. But the US and its allies characterise them as indiscriminate and a menace to global trade.
Several global shippers have been diverting traffic to the Cape of Good Hope, a longer route than through Egypt's Suez Canal.
Egypt's Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said on the sidelines of the summit that part of the impact of the diversion on Suez Canal revenues could be absorbed due to good growth in "the period before the events." — Reuters