Survey of Economic and Social Developments in the ESCWA Region 2004-2005

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This annual Survey reviews economic and social trends in the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) region. It evaluates the region’s performance in areas such as economic development, population growth, health conditions, education and gender affairs. This year’s Survey warns that the impact from the current oil-boom on region-wide development remains below potential because of comparatively low levels of economic integration and sub-optimal macroeconomic structures in most UN-ESCWA member countries. The Survey emphasizes that in an area so rich in resources, a change could be readily achieved in a more regionally-integrative and tension-defused environment, with an economic policy centred on regional cooperation, investment facilitation and job creation.

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Development under risk represents a collective challenge to the region. Because each and every member country would stand to gain from the spillover effects of political or oil shocks, concerted action should be the modus operandi for handling the possibility of further crisis. Bringing the interests of various social groups in the region closer together via institutional reform should at this time mark the starting point of a sequence of measures designed to empower the individual politically and economically. In order of priority: the prevailing unemployment problem has to be tackled in the short term by redeploying idle public resources to lesser endowed regions within a country, and in the long term by gearing up regional investment meant to expand production and employ regional labour.

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