Navigating beyond COVID-19: Recovery in the MENA Region
Over the past two years, since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the economic crisis it induced, we have become familar with the notion of “building back better”. Recovery plans building on this notion provide an opportunity to design and implement much needed reforms for sustainable economic growth and fairer societies.
This report presents policy considerations for a post-pandemic recovery in the MENA region, reflecting in particular on the types of impacts and emerging trends in MENA economies and asks whether these necessitate modifications to the reform agendas.
The analysis was completed shortly before the start of the war in Ukraine, when signs that recovery was already faltering were observed across the world economy. Since then, global growth prospects have been further affected by the conflict in Ukraine – and in such a way that it is too soon to fully assess the extent of the impact. The OECD estimates global economic growth could slow sharply this year, to around 3%, and remain at a similar pace in 2023 (OECD Economic Outlook, June 2022). The analysis on the impact of the war in Ukraine in the MENA region suggests that higher commodity prices risk worsening considerably the economic outlook.
Still, the policy considerations, developed in this report, to build long-term resilience in MENA countries have not changed. On the contrary, they are all the more pertinent, as many of the challenges ahead come from structural factors. MENA countries should reinforce their efforts to promote a structural reform agenda that improves economic resilience, inclusive societies, sustainability, welfare provision, and to promote deals responding to the urgency of climate change capitalising on green and digital transitions. It must, however, be kept in mind, that realistic strategies also depend on fiscal affordabilty.
The pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine, have strengthened the rationale for cooperative solutions to address challenges that while regional, generate global consequences. Policy reforms are for the national level, but international cooperation is key to develop sound policy tools to help the reform process. The New Agenda for the Mediterranean of the European Union urges to turn “the Mediterranean basin into an area of dialogue, exchange and cooperation, guaranteeing peace, stability and prosperity”. MENA countries are encouraged to further strengthen their collaboration with multilateral platforms, such as the OECD and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), engaging with peers across the world, to benefit from the exchange of experiences and best policy practice.
OECD (2022), Navigating beyond COVID-19: Recovery in the MENA Region, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/48300c64-en.