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IMF calls on Gulf countries to make economic reforms

Gulf countries should make economic reforms, International Monetary Fund Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, said at the opening of an IMF-Middle East Center for Economics and Finance in Kuwait City on Saturday.

Lagarde said that some of the most clear issues Gulf countries face are the decline in oil prices and slow growth of the global economy.

She added that oil prices have fallen by 25 percent in the last few months and reached their lowest point in four years — $82 per barrel — last week.

This was due to the rising value of the U.S. dollar that curbs the purchasing power of oil-dependent nations, while the growth rate of Asian and European economies turned out to be lower than expected.

Kuwait’s Finance Minister, Anas al-Saleh, said the decline in oil prices was hampering financial conditions, economic reforms and investment expenditure programs in Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Al-Saleh added that the economic growth rate is expected to reach 4.5 percent in 2014 and 2015, adding that regional and international political issues are putting pressure on Gulf countries to form an extensive economic vision.

Established in 1981, the Gulf Cooperation Council is an intergovernmental body that fosters political and economic cooperation between Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

The council’s member states had an aggregate oil production of around 20 million barrels per day in 2013, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration website.

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