IMF Executive Board concludes 2011 article IV consultation with Azerbaijan

IMF Executive Board concludes 2011 article IV consultation with Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 18 /Trend/

On January 9, 2012, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with Azerbaijan on a lapse of time basis. Under the IMF's lapse of time procedures, the Executive Board completes Article IV consultations without convening formal discussions, said in the statement on IMF official website.

Non-oil economic growth continues to be strong; it could reach 9 percent in 2011, up from 7½ percent in 2010, largely supported by oil-financed government spending. The manat exchange rate has appreciated by less than 2 percent against the U.S. dollar since November 2010.

Strong fiscal stimulus continued in 2011 triggered by unanticipated increases in global oil prices.

In 2011 there was some unwinding of supportive monetary and financial sector policies adopted in response to the 2009 global crisis. Policy rates and reserve requirement were raised modestly, as recovery took hold and signs of spillovers from rising global food prices emerged on domestic inflation. Support provided by the Central Bank to state enterprises has continued, albeit at a slower pace, and there has been little progress with the privatization of the systemic public bank.

Near and medium-term economic prospects are favorable and non-hydrocarbon growth could reach 6 percent in 2012 and remain in the 5-5½ percent range thereafter, if underpinned by medium-term fiscal consolidation and supported by non-oil Foreign Direct Investment. This outlook assumes a substantive adjustment in the non-hydrocarbon fiscal position beginning in 2012 and progress with structural reforms, including on business environment and governance to foster private non-hydrocarbon investment. Large foreign assets could provide sufficient buffer to mitigate the impact of future shocks, including a sharp and sustained decline in oil prices.

Executive Board Assessment

In concluding the 2011 Article IV consultation with Azerbaijan, Executive Directors endorsed staff's appraisal, as follows:

Until recently, Azerbaijan's strong economic performance has benefited from prudent economic policies. Since the early 2000s, government policies have contributed to keeping non-hydrocarbon growth high and the macroeconomic environment relatively stable. The policy of transparently saving a sizable portion of oil revenues has enabled the economy to avoid the adverse consequences of harvesting natural resources. In addition, non-hydrocarbon growth and well-targeted social assistance have contributed to significant reduction in poverty and inequality.

It is expected that the next Article IV consultation with Azerbaijan will be held on the standard 12-month cycle.

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