DAKAR, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Central Africa’s CEMAC bloc is expected by the International Monetary Fund to have suffered a 0.6 percent economic contraction in 2017, an improvement on last year’s 1 percent but well below an earlier forecast of 0.7 percent growth.
The oil-producing zone — comprising Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Congo Republic and Central African Republic — has been hit by a slump in crude prices since 2014 and by cutbacks in public spending.
The IMF said in a statement late on Monday that it had revised up the public debt-to-GDP ratio for the region to over 50 percent as of the end of 2016. The ratio stood at 28 percent at the end of 2014.
Several CEMAC countries receive financial assistance from the IMF, and Congo Republic is currently in negotiations for a bailout after its public or publicly guaranteed debt spiked this year to 110 percent of GDP. (Reporting by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Aaron Ross/Jeremy Gaunt)