Author: Tina Aridas, Valentina Pasquali
Project Coordinator: Denise Bedell

The gross domestic product (GDP) of a country can be defined as the value of the total final output of all goods and services produced in a single year within a country's boundaries. The growth is expressed as a percent.

According to the IMF, in the decade between 2003 and 2013 the economies of Qatar, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Libya and Equatorial Guinea dominated the top-20 of countries by average GDP growth. 

Data is from the World Economic Outlook Database of the International Monetary Fund, October 2012.

Countries with the highest GDP growth, 2003-2013

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* gross domestic product, constant prices, % change.

Overall, it is Developing Asia and Africa that comprise the lion’s share of the IMF list, with Panama, coming in at position 13, the highest-ranked country from the rest of the world beside Qatar.

According to a report by The Economist , “emerging economies accounted for four-fifths of global GDP growth” in the third quarter of 2012, while the world economy only expanded 2.4%, the lowest level since the end of 2009. Things are not expected to change much in 2013, with The Economist predicting that Macau, Mongolia and Libya will be the fastest growing economies this year.

At the The Economist's “World in 2013” Festival, held at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, New York University professor Burden William Easterly debated economist Dambisa Moyo, author of New York Times bestseller Winner Take All.

Emerging Economies in 2013

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IMF data shows that Qatar, which had strong, sustained, double-digit growth from 2006 all the way through 2011, slowed down to 6.3% in 2012 and is predicted to grow even less this year, 4.9%. Likewise, the economy of Azerbaijan, which had the second-highest GDP growth throughout the 2000s, almost came to a halt in 2011 -- barely expanding at all at a 0.1% pace -- and has been struggling since, with 3.9% growth in 2012 and a projected 2.7% in 2013.

The economies of China and India, which many hoped would be the engine of global growth for decades to come, also slowed down in the last few years. After expanding, on average, more than 10% a year for a decade, China’s economy only grew at a rate of about 8% in 2012. It is projected to stay on a similar course in 2013 as well. Even more worryingly, India’s growth, which reached a high of 10.1% in 2010, dropped to less than 7% in 2011, to 4.9% in 2012 and is estimated to expand only 6% this year.

This is, in general, the legacy of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, which has left even the fastest growing emerging economies reeling. Libya is an exception to this overall trend. Ravaged by the 2011 civil war, when its economy contracted by a staggering 60%, this country has been booming since, growing an incredible 122% in 2012 and projected to expand a solid 16% in 2013.