Rapid changes in the global economic environment have led to new challenges and opportunities for firms in the MENA region. In response to these developments, this paper briefly reviews how MENA countries have fared in the global economy and outlines the challenges and opportunities arising from these global changes. The paper starts by reviewing several indicators, which show that MENA countries have fared poorly compared with other developing regions. In order to help MENA firms to prepare themselves to meet this competitive challenge and benefit from available opportunities, the authors suggest the following: first, firms can call on the governments to accelerate efforts to improve the institutions governing trade and investment and trade-related infrastructure; second, they can resist the temptation to use the transition periods allowed in regional agreements to continue business as usual. The paper concludes by highlighting the importance of the government’s role as effective partners of the private sector. This necessitates giving firms clear signals about the nature and magnitude of changes that are going to occur, as well as making the complementary institutional changes needed to implement the rules effectively and fairly.
Author(s): Dorsati Madani and John Page