Challenges to further growth in Eurasian Development Bank member states intensify

BISHKEK (TCA) — Most of the member countries of Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) — including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan — face emerging risks to the positive dynamics of economic recovery which was observed in the first half of the year and remained in June, according to the findings presented in the Monthly Macroeconomic Review prepared by the EDB Chief Economist’s Group.

In particular, several EDB countries registered inflation growth in June 2017: by 0.3% (compared to May 2017) or up to 4.4% y/y in Russia; by 0.4% or up to 6.5% in Belarus; by 0.3% or up to 4.1% in Kyrgyzstan; and by 0.3% or up to 9% in Tajikistan. According to EDB analysts, this is a result of short-term effects of unfavourable weather conditions and growing exchange rate volatility.

The risks of building up inflation pressures will also remain in the second half of this year that, in the opinion of EDB experts, will most likely lead regulators to taking a more prudent approach to bringing down policy rates in the remaining part of the year.

The report highlights that, in the context of exchange rate depreciation and mounting inflation pressures, central banks (except for the National Bank of Belarus) had ceased further reductions of their policy rates by July, with the rhetoric of regulators getting tighter. In addition to the diminishing potential scale of stimulating economic activity by reducing interest rates, most of the EDB member countries registered a significant decrease of their budget deficits in the first half of 2017 that was partially caused by the need to reduce the vulnerability of state budgets to volatile commodity prices or avoid a high growth of public debt.

In the context of weakening monetary and fiscal stimulus, the prospects of further recovery in EDB member countries will largely depend on structural measures aimed at boosting investment and exports growth. “These segments of the economy, however, face their own challenges — after the recovery of mutual trade and exports growth, further exports recovery may become more difficult to achieve in the absence of support on the part of commodity prices, especially following a period of recovery of exchange rates and real wages,” notes Yaroslav Lissovolik, Chief Economist at EDB.

However, the potential investment growth will partly depend on the recovery of the rate of lending growth that, in its turn, is currently contained by the relatively high level of overdue loans in the banking sector (Kazakhstan, Belarus, Tajikistan). As to the EDB member countries, which significantly depend on remittances from Russia, their ability to maintain the upward trend will largely depend on the economic growth recovery in the region and stability of local currencies. Based on data for June 2017 on remittances to Armenia (growth of 9.1% against the same period of last year or up to US $148 million) and Kyrgyzstan (growth of 10.5% against the same period of last year or up to US $236.4 million), the annual rates of growth were positive, but still lower than in the previous month of this year. For instance, in Armenia, the growth was 41.5% in May 2017 against the same period of last year with remittances reaching US $155 million; and in Kyrgyzstan the growth was 39.7% against the same period of last year with remittances reaching US $238.8 million).

The authors of the review believe that the second half of 2017 will be more difficult for ensuring both the recovery growth in EDB member countries and overall improvement of their macroeconomic performance. However, the general global background is still relatively favourable, and these challenges are to be treated rather like signals of the need to search for additional sources of growth, which would not undermine achievements in the field of macroeconomic stability in the meantime.

Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) is an international financial institution founded by Russia and Kazakhstan in 2006 with the mission to facilitate the development of market economies, sustainable economic growth, and the expansion of mutual trade in its member states. EDB’s charter capital totals US $7 billion. The member states of the Bank are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.

Sergey Kwan

TCA

Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
divider
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

View more articles fromTCA