World Bank Group

11/24/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/24/2021 04:26

Iraq Economic Monitor: The Slippery Road to Economic Recovery

The fall 2021 issue of the Iraq Economic Monitor provides an in-depth review of the latest macroeconomic and policy developments amidst a global recovery in international oil markets and as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease. As a result, the monitor finds that the economic prospects for Iraq have improved, with GDP projected to grow from 2.6 percent in 2021 to exceed 6 percent in 2022-23, turning both fiscal and external deficits into surpluses.

Nevertheless, upstream risks like oil shocks, droughts, and new COVID-19 variants; coupled with fiscal risks like growing budget rigidities, slow clearance of arrears, large exposure of state-owned banks and the central bank to the sovereign, and public investment management constraints that impact public service delivery can all materialize anytime to turn the tide as Iraq's recent history has repeatedly shown. The breadth and depth of these challenges underscore the need for an accelerated implementation of structural reforms by the new government along the lines of the White of Paper.

The Special Focus of the report discusses water scarcity and the degradation of water quality in Iraq. It highlights the large losses water issues impose across multiple sectors of the economy and the impact on vulnerable people. Indeed, a 20 percent reduction in water supply with changes in crop yields could reduce real GDP in Iraq by up to 4 percent, or US$6.6 billion. The monitor highlights the importance of dealing with those issues to reduce fragilities and identifies three reform areas to improve resilience to water scarcity and climate change impacts through water efficiency, productivity, and demand management policies; institutional solutions; and regional solutions.