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15 Jan 2017
New York, January 15, 2017 -- The stable outlook for sovereign creditworthiness in the Levant and North
Africa -- namely Moody's rated Tunisia, Jordan,
Lebanon, Morocco, and Egypt -- in 2017 reflects the lower
for longer energy price environment as well as the reform momentum in
the region, despite continuing political and security headwinds,
says Moody's Investors Service in its annual Levant and North Africa Sovereign
Outlook, published today.
Moody's report, "Sovereigns -- Levant and North Africa:
2017 Outlook -- Reform Momentum Supports Stable Outlook Despite Continuing
Challenges ", is available on www.moodys.com.
Moody's subscribers can access this report via the link provided at the
end of this press release. The rating agency's report is an update
to the markets and does not constitute a rating action.
"Improving growth momentum and access to external funding sources
under International Monetary Fund (IMF) programs in four of five countries
in the Levant and North Africa supports our stable credit outlook for
the region," says Elisa Parisi-Capone, Vice President
Moreover, the lower for longer energy price environment has provided
further support to the region's gradual external rebalancing and has helped
to offset subdued tourism, foreign direct investment, and
reduced financial transfers from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
Headwinds for the region remain, with risks to reform implementation
remaining high in countries with a comparatively weak track record in
government effectiveness, in particular Lebanon and Egypt.
Persistent domestic and regional security challenges also continue to
constrain sovereign credit profiles, albeit to varying degrees.
Despite a series of negative shocks, Egypt retains the region's
highest economic strength assessment, which reflects not only its
scale but also its growth outlook compared to peers. Moody's
forecasts Egypt's economy to grow by 4.0% and 4.5%
in 2017-18, supported largely by private consumption,
as well as increasing public and private investment.
On the funding side, all countries except Tunisia benefit from dedicated
domestic funding bases that reduce their reliance on external borrowing,
even at high debt levels and gross financing needs which in 2017 range
from 55.6% of GDP in Egypt, to 30.8%
in Lebanon, 21.5% in Jordan, 12.2%
in Morocco, and 9.4% in Tunisia.
Continued reform delays in Lebanon underpin the negative outlook and increase
the risk that deficit and debt levels could approach levels that may no
longer be consistent with current ratings. Moody's forecasts
a deterioration in the fiscal balance in 2017-18 to 9.3%
and 9.9%, respectively, with the debt ratio
increasing to 144% of GDP in 2018.
In Tunisia, the negative outlook also reflects tighter external
funding conditions arising from its substantial foreign-currency
debt and funding structure. Egypt and Tunisia's current account
deficits have deteriorated marginally over 2012-16 to 4.6%
of GDP and 8.5%, respectively. Moody's
projects current account deficits of 7.5% and 6.0%
in Egypt for 2017 and 2018, and 7.9% and 7.3%
Moody's notes that domestic and/or geopolitical risk remain among
the main drivers of event risk in regional sovereign credit profiles,
especially in the case of Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia.
Subscribers can access the report at: http://www.moodys.com/viewresearchdoc.aspx?docid=PBC_1050753
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