World Bank Reaffirms Armenian Growth Forecast

economy-year2011.jpg.pagespeed.ce.1oeQyHCf_YArmenia will avoid a recession this year despite a considerable slowdown in economic activity in the country resulting from Russia’s economic troubles, according to the latest World Bank projections.

In its most recent Global Economic Prospects report released late on Wednesday, the bank said that the Armenian economy is on course to expand by 0.8 percent in 2015, down from 3.4 percent in 2014.

Laura Bailey, the head of the World Bank’s Yerevan office, forecast the same growth rate in late March. It was a significant downward revision of the bank’s previous projections made late last year.

The International Monetary Fund offered an even more pessimistic outlook in April, saying that Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product will likely contract by 1 percent in 2015 due to knock-on effects of a recession in Russia.

The IMF slightly revised that forecast last week, with Teresa Daban Sanchez, the fund’s resident representative in Yerevan, predicting zero growth for the Armenian economy. She argued that oil prices stabilized in February, helping to somewhat shore up the Russian ruble.

The Armenian government, for its part, is more optimistic about the country’s macroeconomic performance in 2015. Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian insisted last month growth will reach “at least 2-3 percent.”

The World Bank expects such growth rates in 2016 and 2017 apparently because of a “modest recovery” anticipated in Russia. “In Russia, a contraction in economic activity by 2.7 percent in 2015 is expected to be followed by a modest recovery in 2016 as policies facilitate adjustment to a new low oil price environment,” says its latest report.

The report at the same time warns of downside risks still facing Armenia and other countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Those include “further declines in oil prices, escalation of geopolitical tensions, and abrupt tightening of financial conditions.”