MENA Business Executives Call for Bold Economic Reform

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The World Economic Forum’s Middle East and North African (MENA) Regional Business Council today launched a report outlining policy reforms to create jobs and stability in the region.

The report, Accelerating Economic Reforms in the Middle East and North Africa – A Private-Sector Perspective, outlines actionable policy recommendations for six priority reform areas:

  • Enhance the efficiency of the labour market – Labour market regulation must allow workers to quickly move, at low cost, from one job to another. There is an imperative to align labour market regulation to international standards, especially redundancy.
  • Modernize bankruptcy – Insolvency systems should be based on efficient legal frameworks and effective judicial actors: impartial judges, competent lawyers and accountants experienced in insolvency proceedings.
  • Simplify the process of creating a company – To stimulate entrepreneurship, decision-makers in the region should exploit IT to create an efficient single interface, a one-stop-shop, for registering a company.
  • Strengthen government to reinforce contracts – Create administrative units to liaise between the private and public sector for projects of national interest.
  • Build functional mediation and arbitration methods – For quick conflict resolution, develop an efficient commercial court procedure that increases public-private collaboration, builds trust and promotes mediation as a recognized alternative dispute-resolution method.
  • Promote systems of good corporate governance – Anti-corruption laws promote competitive businesses, attract foreign investment and boost investor confidence, especially in the context of small and medium-sized enterprises.

“The current momentum for reform in the MENA region creates an opportunity for business, civil society and government to initiate inclusive sustainable development. This report is the first collective policy reform recommendation that is concrete and scalable,” said Mirek Dusek, Head of Middle East and North Africa, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum. “Each of these six policy reforms marks a milestone along the road to success and prosperity. The current drive and the determination of MENA’s premier group of companies offer promise that it will boost growth and achieve prosperity for all.”

“We cannot continue to have one in three young people in our region unemployed. We need to transform our economies to enable job creators and not just job seekers,” said Majid Jafar, Chief Executive Officer of Crescent Petroleum, United Arab Emirates, and the Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Actionable Policy Reforms Initiative for the Middle East and North Africa (APRI).

The reforms need to change and enhance basic business regulations to enable more private-sector investment and entrepreneurship. Equally vital, MENA’s legal and transparency frameworks must be reformed. “Without fundamental economic reform in these key basic areas, we stifle prospects for progress in the region and hold back businesses’ potential to create jobs,” said Jafar.

The launch took place during the 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting taking place on 17-20 January in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, under the theme Responsive and Responsible Leadership. More than 3,000 participants from nearly 100 countries will participate in over 400 sessions.

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