IMF revises down growth forecast for MENA region to 2.7% from 3.4% on Gaza war, Red Sea trade disruptions

DUBAI – The International Monetary Fund says Middle East economies will grow at a slower pace this year than it previously projected as the war in Gaza, attacks on Red Sea shipping and lower oil output add to existing challenges of high debt and borrowing costs.

The IMF revises down its 2024 growth forecast for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to 2.7% from 3.4% in its October regional outlook. That would be an improvement from 1.9% growth in 2023.

The downward revision was driven by conflicts in Sudan, the West Bank and Gaza, as well as oil production cuts by Gulf countries weighing on activity.

“Assuming these factors ease in 2025, growth is forecast to strengthen to 4.2%,” the IMF says.

“Uncertainty in high and medium-term growth is forecast to remain below pre-pandemic historical averages.”

Within MENA, oil exporters are seen faring better, with the IMF projecting 2.9% growth this year, up 1 percentage point from last year.

“The voluntary oil production cuts – most notably by Saudi Arabia – are expected to continue to put a temporary damper on growth this year,” the IMF says, adding that “higher-than-projected oil production will boost growth” for other, non-Gulf hydrocarbon producers.

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