2021 OECD Economic Surveys: Iceland 2021

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Iceland’s economy is recovering from a deep COVID-19 recession. Fisheries and intellectual services exports are on the rise and foreign tourists are starting to come back as travel restrictions are gradually eased. The health crisis has been relatively mild so far, thanks to a smart testing and tracking strategy and a well-functioning health system. After a sharp rise during the pandemic, unemployment is declining fast, and inflation hovers above target. Appropriate macroeconomic policy coupled with structural reforms are needed for a sound recovery and sustainable growth. The central bank should remain vigilant and fiscal support should continue to target vulnerable groups. Reducing stringent regulation, especially in tourism and construction, would help shift resources to more productive firms and jobs. Strengthening vocational education and training, and linking part of university funding to labour market outcomes would reduce labour shortages and skills mismatch. Offering better-targeted support for business R&D, encouraging the adoption of digital technologies and facilitating knowledge transfer would boost innovation and productivity. Submitting all economic sectors to carbon pricing – either a carbon tax or an emission trading system – while redistributing the proceeds to households and firms will be key for a cost-efficient and equitable transition to a low-carbon economy.


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Iceland’s overall innovation performance compares well internationally


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