Economic Research Forum (ERF)

September

Business Cycles in Kuwait: A New Chronology

Policy-makers, business leaders and forecasters can all benefit from access to data on historical economic and financial cycles as well as the current state of the economy in real-time. This column outlines efforts in Kuwait to develop a chronology of business cycles – one that tracks and projects the dates of expansions and contractions of overall economic activity.

Development Gains from Arab-African Trade Integration

Despite their proximity, trade and investment flows between the Arab countries and sub-Saharan Africa are very low. This column reports analysis of the potential development gains from deepening economic integration between groups of countries within and across the two regions. Existing and proposed free trade agreements that can help to promote stronger growth include the Arab customs union, the continental free trade area of the African Union, the pan Arab free trade area and the tripartite free trade area, which links three regional economic communities in Africa

Escaping the middle-income trap: lessons from East Asia’s experience

Many countries find themselves in the ‘middle-income trap’, facing a slowdown of economic growth because of weak innovation. This column draws on the experiences of East Asian countries to explore how businesses can upgrade their innovation capabilities and how policies can provide support for those efforts, thereby promoting renewed growth. There are important lessons for the MENA region.

Can Trump’s sanctions break Iran?

Iran and the United States seem to have reversed roles with the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal. As this Project Syndicate column explains, Iran’s isolation before the agreement now contrasts with America's determination to swim against the global tide.

The energy sector reforms of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030

Energy constitutes a major building block of Saudi Arabia’s economic reform agenda described in the government’s Vision 2030. This column outlines the key considerations, including the future role of the oil industry, energy efficiency programmes, domestic energy prices and diversification of energy sources.

Euro-Med trade agreements, macroeconomic stability and income convergence

Economic relations between the European Union and their partner countries in the Southern Mediterranean are being reshaped by the New European Neighbourhood Policy and related trade negotiations. This column reports research on the likely impact of greater trade and financial integration on macroeconomic stability and income convergence between the two regions – and the implications for economic policy-makers in the MED countries.

Video

Understanding the impact of the Syrian refugee influx on education in Jordan

Amman, 13 May 2018. H.E Dr. Omar Razzaz (Jordan Minister of Education) talks about the impact of the Syrian refugee influx on Jordan education

Most read

Recession without impact: why Lebanese elites delay reform

The survival of Lebanon’s political elites is highly dependent on the wellbeing of the economy. Why then do they delay necessary reform to avoid crisis? This column examines the role of politically connected firms in delaying much-needed economic stabilisation policies.

Fair competition is needed to empower women economically in the Arab world

The participation rates of women in the labour market in Arab countries are the lowest in the world. This column argues that remedying the under-representation of women in the labour force is a social and economic imperative for the region. There are three dimensions for action to realise the potential of Arab women: amending laws and regulations; instilling fair competition in markets; and promoting the digital economy.

Competition laws: a key role for economic growth in MENA

Competition policy lacks the attention it deserves in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region characterised by monopolies and lack of market contestability. As this column explains, there are many questions about the extent of anti-competitive barriers facing new market entrants in the region. What’s more, MENA’s weak overall performance on competition is likely to be hindering economic growth and the path towards structural transformation.

Formidable challenges facing the Middle East require a sea change in economic policies

Weakening global growth, endemic conflicts and increased tensions within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – as well as emerging challenges such as climate change and rapid demographic shifts – are likely to have an adverse impact on the region’s economic, social and political stability in the coming years. This column outlines the policy responses that are needed to avert disaster.

The future of Egypt’s population: opportunities and challenges

Egypt’s potential labour supply depends on the growth and changing composition of its working-age population. This column reports the latest data on labour supply and fertility rates, concluding that the country has a window of opportunity with reduced demographic pressures to try to address longstanding structural challenges for the labour market.

Domestic demand and competition: a new development paradigm for MENA

A lack of competition in domestic and regional markets is holding back development in the Middle East and North Africa. This column argues that the region and the international community must ensure that barriers to market entry and exit are eliminated, and that independent regulatory bodies at the national and regional levels help to promote domestic demand as the main engine for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Effects of urbanisation on productivity and wages: evidence from Turkey

Are the substantial productivity gains associated with larger cities in developed countries similar for developing countries? This column provides evidence on urbanised economies in the non-Western world by focusing on Turkey, a country that has experienced fast urbanisation and a high rate of growth of the urban population.

Gender discrimination in small business lending: evidence from Turkey

Discrimination in access to financial services can prevent women from exploiting their entrepreneurial potential. This column reports on a ‘lab-in-the-field’ experiment to test for the presence of gender discrimination in small business lending in Turkey.

How import dependence could lead to corruption in MENA

Export-led development strategies have had little success in MENA countries; what’s more, instruments of earlier import-substitution strategies – such as state-owned enterprises, high tariffs and subsidies – have survived. As this column explains, these legacies have created crony-capitalist industries that have limited the level of competition in many sectors of the economy and furthered the region’s dependence on imports.

Social security for young workers in Arab countries

Social security coverage of young workers in Arab countries is low – in part because many are employed in informal jobs; and in part because they do not see the value of the system. This column reports survey evidence on young workers’ attitudes towards participation in both social security and politics. It also explores policy reforms that might make access to social security universal for young workers.