11 November 2021. The third edition of the UfM Trade and Investment Forum will be held on 11 November 2021 from 10:00 – 14:00. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be held in a digital format and will be streamed online to a broad audience in all UfM Member States.
The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), as the only intergovernmental organization for the Mediterranean region, strives to support economic relations between its Member States through political and multi-stakeholder dialogue as well as through concrete projects and initiatives.
Since 2019, the yearly UfM Trade and Investment Forum brings together a multitude of representatives from governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations. With a view to strengthen regional dialogue between the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean region as well as to promote North-South and South-South economic integration, the Forum addresses issues ranging from trade in goods and regional value chains to trade in services, investment promotion and regulatory cooperation.
The last UfM Trade Ministerial Conferences, the UfM Business Forum in Cairo in 2019 and the previous UfM Trade and Investment Forum in 2020 highlighted the importance of trade and investment for job creation and economic development in the region. By now, e-commerce and digital business platforms have become one of the strongest and fastest growing sectors in the Southern Mediterranean, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet policies that provide adequate logistics, digital infrastructure, online payment methods and management skills are often missing to fully utilize the sector’s potential for job creation and economic development.
At the same time, trading across borders in the MENA region is three times more expensive and takes four times longer than the average among OECD economies. The cooperation between governments and the private sector is imperative to develop effective trade facilitation measures and regulatory frameworks, which are based on the specific experience of companies and exporters in the region.
The same applies to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) – a prerequisite for improvements in production, value chain integration and employment. FDI, however, is increasingly expected to also contribute do a digital and green transition and the provision of decent jobs. The Forum gathers government and private sector stakeholders to address the bottlenecks for FDI and the mechanisms to increase not only the quantity but also the quality of FDI in the Southern Mediterranean.
By addressing these three topics – Trade Facilitation, e-Commerce and sustainable investment – this year’s Forum not only tackles issues of high relevance to the countries in the Mediterranean region. The Forum also comes at a critical time in which the European Union and its Member States are finalizing the geographical and thematic programming for the EU Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation for the coming years, including the development of common Team Europe Initiatives for the Southern EU Neighbourhood.
The UfM Trade and Investment Forum will therefore provide a unique and timely opportunity for experts, policymakers and private sector representatives from across the Mediterranean to provide insights, perspectives and solutions that can turn trade and investment into an impactful driver for economic development in the region.