On May 22, ISET hosted Francois Painchaud, the IMF Resident Representative in Georgia. Mr. Painchaud presented the 2017 May Regional Economic Outlook for the Caucasus and Central Asia, highlighting the three main areas of the global and regional environment, outlook and policy actions, and policy priorities.

At the beginning of the presentation, Mr. Painchaud overviewed the main trends in the global and regional environment. Firstly, the IMF predicts higher than expected real GDP growth in 2017, mainly at the expense of higher growth projections in the US, China, Russia, and emerging markets.

Secondly, risks related to global GDP growth have decreased, with global financial stability mainly coming from easier fiscal and monetary policies and fewer credit risks. The IMF also predicts a moderate increase in oil prices, but these will apparently not return to preceding levels in the near future. Furthermore, commodity prices are gradually recovering after a fall in previous years.

In the second part of the presentation, Mr. Painchaud discussed the general outlook and policy actions of the region. He stated that exports, remittance, and tourism are still key channels for Georgia through which external conditions have positively affected growth in 2017. Therefore, a deterioration of these variables has been observed in nearly all countries in the region, while oil exporter countries suffered more from the negative shocks than oil importers.

In addition, Mr. Painchaud evaluated the vulnerability of the financial sector. Despite the fact that volatility in this sector has risen over the last year, Georgia remains one of the most stable financial sectors in the region. Furthermore, despite high dollarization, the banking system remains healthy after the lari's depreciation against the US dollar. He also indicated that exchange rate fluctuations in Georgia were smooth, as the NBG responded well to external shocks.
At the end of this section, Mr. Painchaud presented current risks, such as weaker growth in trading partners, the further weakening of prices for oil and other commodities, an increase in global risk aversion and financing costs, and an increase in global protectionism and/or slower domestic reforms.

In the third section of the presentation, Mr. Painchaud suggested some policy recommendations:

• Create budget space and buffers through fiscal consolidation.

• Develop credible medium term consolidation plans to insure sustainability.

• Strengthen monetary and exchange rate frameworks.

• Improve supervision, macro-prudential policy, and crises management frameworks.

• Have structural reforms to boost medium-term growth prospects, improve living standards, and create jobs.

See the link for Regional Economic Outlook in Caucasus and Central Asia, May 17, 2017.

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