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Country Report Zambia October 2017

Country Report Zambia October 2017

  • October 2017
  • ID: 359773
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit

Summary

Table of Contents

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Outlook for 2018-22



  • In the short term, recent political tensions will cool following the release of an opposition leader, but there are several trigger-points for further unrest, leaving stability fragile throughout the forecast period.
  • The government will adopt an economic policy of austerity with the scrapping of consumer subsidies, most notably for electricity, while protecting pro-poor spending under a loan facility with the IMF.
  • Monetary policy will be loosened in 2018 as inflation remains well within the central bank's medium-term target range, followed by a period of stasis and then tightening in 2021-22 as price pressures rise.
  • Real GDP growth will average 3.6% a year in 2018-22, mainly on the back of a relatively strong copper price outlook, although there will be volatility in global commodity markets and varying levels of business confidence.
  • Inflation will settle at an annual average of 6.7% in 2018-19, on the back of currency stability. The rate will then average 8.3% in 2020-22, amid a weaker exchange rate and periodic rises in the global oil price.
  • The current-account balance will move from an estimated deficit of 2.1% of GDP in 2017 to a surplus of 0.6% of GDP in 2019 as exports rise. It will then return to a deficit in 2020-22 as copper prices fall to relatively lower levels.


Review



  • Emergency security powers under Article 31 of the constitution have expired without extension by the president, Edgar Lungu, who made the decision unilaterally. Article 31 was initially invoked following a large fire that the authorities suspected was caused by politically motivated arson.
  • A debt management strategy paper released by the Ministry of Finance reveals plans for domestic public debt to comprise 60% of the total stock over the medium term, with the remainder external. This is up from an officially estimated ratio of 45:55 currently.
  • The Ministry of Mines has released a projection that copper output in 2017 will drop against year-earlier levels. The officially expected contraction in output comes as the Chamber of Mines, an industry body, warned that the viability of the sector depends on adequate power supply and stable policy.
  • Amid frustration from a farmers' union, the government announced that it would revisit the price offered by the state-owned Food Reserve Agency to lo-cal farmers for maize. Union representatives had claimed the current price was below cost-recovery and unless amended would deter production in 2018.


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