Roundtable Discussions

Economic Prospects for the Middle East and Central Asia

Date : 7/4/2010

Speakers : Saade Chami,Coordinator, the Middle East Technical Assistance Center (METAC)

The economic prospects for the countries of the Middle East and Central Asia are improving along with the global recovery, albeit the latter remains fragile. Growth in the region—comprising the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) oil exporters; MENAP oil importers; and Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA)—will gather momentum in 2010, but stay below pre-crisis levels. While the impact on the region of the Dubai crisis and the unfolding events in Greece has been limited so far, a re-pricing of sovereign debt cannot be ruled out, adding an element of uncertainty to the outlook. Dealing with the legacy of the global economic crisis will be the priority in 2010. In some MENAP oil exporters, bank balance-sheet strains emerged during the crisis, and country-specific solutions to address these strains will need to be found. As unemployment continues to rise in the MENAP oil importers, the need to raise growth and competitiveness will take center stage, against the backdrop of a weak pickup in external demand and tight competition from other emerging markets. Relevant coverage in the press: http://www.ahram.org.eg/218/2010/07/05/5/27959.aspx