About the MENA-OECD Competitiveness Programme

‌The MENA-OECD Competitiveness Programme is a strategic partnership between MENA and OECD economies to share knowledge, expertise and good practices. The Programme’s objective is to contribute to the development of inclusive, sustainable and competitive economies across the region. 

The Programme supports reforms to mobilise investment, private sector development and entrepreneurship as driving forces for inclusive growth and employment in the MENA region, building also on the need to mainstream the region’s increasingly well trained youth and women. 

To learn more about recent work consult the Activities Report 2018 (Arabic) as well as our Programme of Work 2019/20 (Arabic).

The MENA-OECD Competitiveness Programme additionally implements cross-cutting projects with other OECD directorates:



Read & download the Competitiveness brochure 

English | Arabic 

MENA-OECD Ministerial Conference 2021

The MENA-OECD Ministerial Conference “Designing a Roadmap to Recovery in MENA”, organised by the MENA-OECD Initiative on Governance and Competitiveness for Development and the Government of Tunisia, took place virtually on 1 April 2021 via Zoom. Gathering representatives from MENA and OECD governments, regional partners, international organisations, the private sector and civil society, it focused on strategies to ensure an inclusive and resilient post-COVID-19 recovery. The Ministerial was preceded by the MENA-OECD Government-Business Summit and the MENA-OECD Governance Forum.

Women's Economic Empowerment

Empowering women increases productivity and reduces poverty, helping to create more resilient and inclusive societies. Through evidence-based analysis, our work seeks to help women engage in the economy by addressing legal, economic and political impediments that stand in their way.

What we do

  • Support the establishment of non-discriminatory legal and institutional frameworks to increase women’s economic empowerment in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Align MENA’s policies with international standards and best practices regarding women’s rights and support measures.
  • Raise awareness of the gender dimension of policy reforms, including by mainstreaming gender sensitive considerations in all policy areas of the Competitiveness Programme.
  • Further link work streams on women’s economic and political empowerment through enhanced collaboration with the MENA-OECD Governance Programme. 

Investment & Trade

Boosting investment and trade is crucial for furthering economic growth and job creation in the region. We pursue an interconnected approach to investment and trade, the key drivers of global economic integration, growth and prosperity, while focusing on the inclusiveness of related policies.

What we do

  • Encourage sound, inclusive and coherent investment and trade policies. 
  • Promote a regional dialogue connecting different stakeholders.
  • Support and monitor reforms at the national and regional levels.
  • Facilitate trade, investment and integration into regional and global value chains.
  • Promote quality investment and a transparent and predictable environment for investors. 
  • Build capacity to use OECD tools and develop trade and investment statistics to better orient policies.

Corporate Governance

Good corporate governance is an essential building block for countries to boost competitiveness, attract capital, develop the private sector and promote investment. We mobilise knowledge sharing, identify priorities and provide policy advice to make good corporate governance achievable.

What we do

  • Increase the participation of women in corporate leadership in MENA countries.
  • Promote a level-playing field for private business and state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
  • Fight against corruption and cronyism, creating an environment of trust, transparency and accountability.
  • Expand relevant OECD tools to MENA countries to support policy evaluation and orientations.
  • Promote capital market development for private sector growth.  

SMEs & Entrepreneurship

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups are vital for more and better jobs, higher productivity and greater innovation. Promoting better SME and entrepreneurship policies is one of the main areas of work of the MENA-OECD Competitiveness Programme. 

What we do

  • Provide a regional platform for SME policy dialogue and peer learning among MENA and OECD countries, regional organisations and representatives of the private sector. 
  • Support the identification of good policy practices and reforms at the regional level based on the methodology of the OECD SME Policy Index.
  • Provide capacity building and technical support for the design and implementation of SME policies.

Business Integrity

Integrity is central to the development of competitive and open economies in which growth and opportunities are sustainably and equitably distributed. The MENA-OECD Competitiveness Programme works to foster transparent public-private dialogue and improve the effectiveness of anti-corruption strategies.

What we do

  • Raise awareness and help public officials understand the detrimental impact of corruption on the business climate and attracting foreign investment.
  • Support the convergence of MENA regulatory frameworks and businesses with internationally recognised integrity norms, standards and best practices. 
  • Build a culture of responsibility and accountability among SOEs to prevent corruption. 
  • Provide an effective platform for peer learning, sharing tools and best practices, both of government actions and on voluntary corporate compliance. 
  • Support government actions to promote clean business by defining standards; imposing sanctions through legislation, enforcement and prosecution; and raising awareness and encouraging companies to comply.

Economic Resilience in Fragile Situations

Conflict and socio-political frictions can lead to enormous human, social and economic costs, and create negative regional and international effects that disturb stability and economic activity. We promote dialogue around how to adapt policies in contexts of fragility that can result in resilient economies and sustainable growth.

What we do

  • Raise awareness about how conflict and fragility are closely related to economic performance. 
  • Promote regional policy dialogue and contribute to co-ordination among key stakeholders.
  • Support affected countries in addressing pressing challenges and preparing the ground for economic recovery.

Private Sector Mobilisation and Social Dialogue

Partnering with the private sector and civil society in a structured, systematic and transparent way is key to supporting reform efforts aimed at improving the business environment, and fostering job creation and development. The MENA-OECD Business Advisory Board (BAB) is a new component of the Competitiveness Programme created to promote private sector mobilisation and social dialogue in the Middle East and North Africa.

What we do

  • Strengthen the capacity of business and industry associations to identify relevant issues for reform
  • Promote new forms of public-private dialogue
  • Inform the work of the MENA-OECD Competitiveness Programme with the views of the private sector
Report: May 2021

Regional Integration in the Union for the Mediterranean Progress Report

The OECD, in partnership with the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) launched the first Progress Report on Regional Integration. The Report examines five domains of regional integration, namely trade integration, financial integration, infrastructure integration, movement of people, as well as research and higher education.

Access the report
Report: March 2021

Middle East & North Africa Investment Policy Perspectives

Attracting investment in the MENA region – and harnessing its benefits – is needed now more than ever with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating existing challenges and adding new ones.


Changing Laws and Breaking Barriers for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia

At a moment when many countries of the MENA region are looking to accelerate economic growth and build more stable, open societies, this report argues that greater women’s economic empowerment holds one of the keys. It asserts that despite challenges some countries are facing in guaranteeing women equal access to economic opportunity, progress is underway and can be further nurtured through targeted, inclusive and coordinated policy actions.


Contact us

For more information about the MENA-OECD Competitiveness Programme, please contact:

Programme and Project Donors

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