AKIPRESS.COM - The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund concluded the Article IV consultation with Uzbekistan and considered and endorsed the staff appraisal.
While the pandemic hit Uzbekistan’s economy especially hard in the first half of 2020 and inflicted considerable hardship, the recession was moderated by strong and timely containment and support measures.
These included a forceful public health response and the deployment of a set of fiscal, monetary, and financial measures, made possible by substantial buffers owing to prudent macro-economic policies in preceding years, and thanks also to sizable international support.
As a result, the economy rebounded sharply in the second half of the year and Uzbekistan was able to post positive overall growth in 2020, at a rate of 1.6 percent.
Similarly, while the current account deficit at 5½ percent of GDP was almost equal in size as in 2019, trade flows were considerably depressed. Inflation continued to gradually decline in 2020, but higher increases in food prices kept overall inflation inthe low double digits, ending the year at just over 11 percent.
Growth is expected to pick up in 2021. With the rollout of vaccines globally, a recovery of trading partner growth, and building on the domestic recovery, the economy is projected to grow by about 5 percent in 2021.
The current account deficit is projected to widen slightly, to about 6½ percent of GDP, as imports are expected to recover faster than exports. Inflation is projected to decline marginally, to just below 10 percent by end-2021 due to food price pressures and government wage increases.
The level of uncertainty is very large, however. The recovery could be delayed by a resurgence of infections, a slower-than-expected rollout of vaccines, or new containment measures, as well as slower growth in Uzbekistan’s main trading partners and fluctuations in commodity prices, notably the price of gold. The humanitarian and economic impact of the pandemic slowed Uzbekistan’s transformation to a modern market economy. As the pandemic abates, Uzbekistan will need to secure strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth to narrow the income gap relative to other emerging economies and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The authorities will need to continue with wide-ranging structural reforms tohelp achieve this, including by reducing the role of the state in the economy and creating an environment conducive to strong private sector growth, while expanding the social safety net to protect vulnerable households, IMF said.