Supported by stable oil production and a modest acceleration in domestic demand, real GDP expanded by 1.4 percent in 2018. While oil production plateaued, the hydrocarbons sector overall posted growth of 1.1 percent, thanks to higher exports of natural gas. The non-energy economy expanded by 1.8 percent, reflecting greater dynamism in most economic sectors. Consumer price inflation decelerated sharply in 2018, falling to 1.6 percent from 7.9 percent in 2017.
Since the presidential election in April 2018, the Government of Azerbaijan has undergone significant changes. These include the nomination of a new prime minister and the appointment of several key ministers in charge of education, tax reforms, agriculture and rural development, the environment, and energy. The new Government has been tasked with continuing the reforms in key sectors to recover economic growth.
Since economic prospects will largely rely on rising gas exports, the projected acceleration in growth in the medium term will be temporary. The country needs reforms to boost private sector investment, reduce the state footprint, tackle issues of competitiveness, and develop human capital.
The notable increases in the 2019 budget allocations for education (up by 13 percent) and health care (by 44.5 percent) are important in terms of improving human capital. But further efforts are needed to align budget spending with development needs, including through strengthening medium-term budgeting and the public investment management system.