Survey of Economic and Social Developments in the Arab Region 2011-2012

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The Survey of Economic and Social Development in the Arab Region 2011-2012 assesses the most recent economic and social developments in the Arab region, using the data that became available by the 2nd quarter of 2012. It found that GDP growth performance between major oil producers and the rest of the Arab region appeared to diverge. While GCC countries’ oil export revenues marked all-time high, the subdued intra-regional tourism, trade and foreign direct investment clearly failed to produce the positive spill-over of oil revenues over the Arab region. It emphasizes that this growth polarization deepens already uncertain prospects of the region's economic and social development, noting that the unemployment rate of the Arab region remains at the highest level world-wide. The Survey concludes that the use of “regional leverage” by articulating regional cooperation frameworks for Arab regional integration is crucial to tackle pressing issues for a constructive economic and social transition of the region.



Concluding remarks

The global context that surrounds the ESCWA region is a mixture of positive and negative developments. Indeed a number of external factors may be considered to have positive impacts on the ESCWA region’s economic prospects. For example, the region’s central location between emerging growing centers – East and South Asia and Africa – will likely be an advantage for the coming year. However, this factor is yet to be sufficiently robust to move the region away from its energy-export dependency. Recent oil sector developments in the ESCWA region set a resiliently positive sentiment on the region’s economic prospects, particularly of GCC countries. It also has masked the elements of pessimism due to a series of political and social unrest in the ESCWA region, particularly in Bahrain, Egypt, the Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen. It should be noted, however, that the optimistic prospects in the oil sector have not been translated into a perception of an ‘oil boom’. GDP growth performance between major oil producers, namely GCC countries and Iraq, and the rest of the ESCWA region appeared to diverge. The subdued intraregional tourism, foreign direct investment and foreign portfolio investment clearly failed to produce a positive region-wide spillover effect.


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