Launch of the Union for the Mediterranean Progress Report on Regional Integration, 27 May 2021


Opening Remarks from Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 27 May 2021
Transcript of video message

Dear Secretary-General Kamel, Dear Ministers, Friends,

It is a pleasure to join you for the launch of the joint OECD-UfM Regional Integration in the Union for the Mediterranean: Progress Report.

This report focuses on one of the main challenges of both history and geography: how to make the most out of the diversity and the complementarities that exist among neighbouring regions and countries. This means ensuring that trade, the movement of people and the circulation of ideas remain the drivers of prosperity. This has also been one of the OECD’s main objectives since its creation.

The work that we are presenting today is the result of sound data analysis and extensive consultations with experts and policymakers across the region. Specifically, we reviewed the progress of integration in the Mediterranean in the areas of trade, finance, infrastructure, the movement of people, as well as research and higher education.

We firmly believe that higher levels of integration will result in more opportunities and greater welfare for people if done correctly. The analysis shows that integration in the region has advanced, but it has happened below the potential in terms of capacities and resources; and unequally across sub-regions.

The report puts forward a set of policy recommendations to help countries strengthen the timing, sequencing and impact of their reform agendas to promote a more inclusive integration and greater opportunities. Let me briefly outline some of the most important ones.

First, policies to support industrial diversification must be put in place, including skills development, a digitalisation agenda and stronger integration in regional and global value chains.

Second, it will be essential to build truly multi-modal connectivity in transport and logistics infrastructure in the Southern and Eastern regions, as well as improving the capacity and efficiency of ports as national or regional gateways.

Third, promoting investment in research infrastructure at the national level, to facilitate embedding technology in local economic production systems and to attract international flows of research and development (R&D), human resources, and related high-value-added activities.

The report also highlights the detrimental implications of isolation for the region’s future economic and social well-being, such as hampered flow of resources and insufficient opportunities for new generations. We simply cannot afford this scenario, especially because restoring growth and economic stability in the aftermath of the COVID-19 requires a huge amount of resources and investment. Moreover, promoting connectivity facilitates co-operation in research, links regional industrial systems and value chains, supports international trade and encourages cultural exchange.

Last but not least, let me reiterate the crucial role of women's empowerment, as well as the role of youth, for the future of the region's economies and societies.

Dear Friends,

The OECD has been an active partner in the region for nearly two decades. I am particularly proud of our exemplary collaboration, and I want to thank Secretary-General Kamel for his leadership and support.

As we focus on the recovery from the pandemic, a successfully integrated Euro-Mediterranean region would set an important example. It would also help establish a model of integration that leads to stronger, fairer, cleaner and more inclusive economies and societies. Count on the OECD’s support to reach this goal.

Thank you.


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