The world may be falling into its worst recession in almost a century but one tiny South American economy is still forecast to grow 53% this year.
The remote, jungle-covered nation of Guyana will enjoy by far the world’s fastest expansion and will be the only country in the Americas to see any growth at all in 2020, the International Monetary Fund said in its World Economic Outlook published Tuesday.
That’s despite a warning from the U.S. and its allies that Guyana risks international isolation over its botched presidential election last month and a collapse in oil prices.
The country is in the process of becoming a major oil producer, as it starts to tap massive offshore fields which are estimated to hold 8 billion barrels of crude. Energy companies including Exxon Mobil Corp, Hess Corporation, China’s CNOOC Ltd. and Tullow Oil Plc have invested in the country.
The coronavirus pandemic, the slump in oil prices and Guyana’s own political crisis have still taken a partial toll on the country’s outlook: the IMF had forecast 2020 growth of 86% last October.
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The first results in Guyana’s March 2 elections handed a victory to the incumbent, President David Granger. Representatives from the U.S., U.K., European Union and Canada said the original vote count wasn’t transparent or credible, and that a president sworn in on the basis of it wouldn’t be legitimate.
Guyana Elections Commission head Keith Lowenfield presented a draft plan last week which proposes a period of 156 days for a vote recount, the government’s information service said.
The economy is likely to outperform anyway despite the political noise, as Exxon has forecast that Guyana will produce at least 750,000 barrels of oil a day by 2025, from zero just a few months ago.