Improving Competitiveness in the MENA Region: Capacity building seminar

 

 24-26 June 2012, Kuwait

Co-organised by the MENA-OECD Investment Programme and the IMF-CEF Institute in Kuwait, this capacity building seminar shared and discussed instruments, methodologies and good practices for investment facilitation and enterprise support. Participants focused on how to improve investment policy frameworks, the tools and institutions most useful for facilitating investment, and policy options to support the domestic private sector, particularly for SMEs and start-ups.

 

The capacity building seminar used both theory and case studies based on the experiences of the OECD, its members, and the participants in the training. The investment facilitation component focused on investment policy options and investment facilitation tools, such as economic zones.  The SME and entrepreneurship component recommended policies to support high-growth SMEs.

 

The seminar was attended by mid- to senior-level officials from ministries and agencies in CEF-member countries involved in country competitiveness or SME/entrepreneurship development programmes.

 

Download the agenda for more information.


Background

The Arab awakening has highlighted the economic challenges that Arab League members face. Unemployment, especially among the young, the educated and women, a lack of diversification and resource dependency, low levels of innovation, a dominant public sector, and ubiquitous corruption number among the most pressing issues.

Enhancing overall competitiveness could help frame the reform process to address these challenges and boost diversified, sustainable growth throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Competitive economies likely to see sustained growth over the medium to longer term typically have in place the policies, factors and institutions that support productivity and investment – both key to generate employment.

The development of a dynamic private sector is essential to create a competitive economy. This includes raising the efficiency of markets by moving towards healthier competition, fostering entrepreneurship, and supporting a more dynamic environment for enterprises. Governments should therefore create an enabling business environment and push for regulatory and administrative simplification, improved access to finance, and better human capital development policies. Governments can also focus on policies to support high performance enterprises.

The development of a dynamic private sector would not only involve the promotion of domestic enterprise but also the opening up of the economy to foreign investment. In addition to providing fresh sources of capital in a context of scarce resources, foreign investment creates spillover effects and productivity gains through technology and know-how transfers, and skills development. But competition for investment is high. Creating an attractive business environment with ample opportunities is essential.  To this end, most Arab League members have created a number of institutions to support competitiveness and investments, notably investment promotion agencies and competitiveness councils. 


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