The financial and economic crisis: impact and response in the Arab States

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1 The financial and economic crisis: impact and response in the Arab States Tariq A. Haq Research Economist Employment Analysis and Research Unit Economic and Labour Market Analysis Department October 2010

2 Pre-crisis economic context 6% GDP growth: high in oil-producing states, variable elsewhere Growth sources: oil revenue, real estate investment, housing, tourism, financial assistance Limited economic diversification, modest growth in exports Challenges to foreign investment from: Conflict and instability Inadequate legal and regulatory environment Declining living standards and increasing inequality

3 Pre-crisis labour market context Labour force growth outpacing both (non-oil) GDP growth and employment opportunities Employment predominantly in services (52.5% in 2008) cf. industry (21.3%) Public sector bias; LM segmentation between public and private sectors (esp. in GCC countries) Highest unemployment rates in the world: regional aggregate of 9.6% in 2007/8 Ue problem compounded by high underemployment: low-productivity, low income, precarious jobs

4 Pre-crisis labour market context Defining characteristics: Youth dimension Gender dimension Migration dimension

5 Crisis impact The impact was: Slower in affecting the region; less severe compared to others regions Surplus liquidity Relative insulation Low market capitalisation Different from country to country; depending on the: Different economic and institutional characteristics Policy responses But Arab economies have not been spared from slower, and in some cases negative, economic growth, rising unemployment and greater insecurity.

6 Crisis impact: Stock Market Indices Abu Dhabi Securities Market Amman Stock Exchange Bahrain Stock Exchange Beirut Stock Exchange Doha Securities Market Dubai Financial Market Kuwait Stock Market Muscat Securities Market Palestine Securities Exchange Saudi Stock Market Composite* Change in percent Feb 2008 Feb 2009 change in per cent; source: Arab Monetary Fund, in Behrendt, Haq and Kamel (2009)

7 GDP growth rate in percent Crisis impact: Regional Real GDP: Annual percent change World Advanced Economies European Union Emerging & Developing Economies Sub-Saharan Africa Central & Eastern Europe Middle East & North Africa Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook, Oct 2010

8 GDP growth rate in percent Crisis impact: Real GDP in Arab States: Annual percent change Bahrain Jordan Kuwait Lebanon Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia Syria UAE Yemen Algeria Egypt Morocco Sudan Tunisia Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook, Oct 2010

9 Crisis impact: Arab Region Unemployment Rate Total Males Females Youth Source: ILO, Trends Econometric Models, Oct 2009

10 Transmission channels Transmission channels for growth and employment impact include: Financial channels sharp reversals in stock market indices reduced net worth of region-specific sovereign wealth funds Declining exports Rising commodity prices benefits for net energy exporters costs for net importers Declining tourism Declining remittances and migration for L-exporting countries Declining private capital flows Declining official development assistance

11 Crisis responses Many governments in the region took measures to mitigate the negative effects of the crisis: A variety of monetary and financial measures to stabilize the financial sectors and reduce the systemic effect arising from lack of credit Fiscal measures to maintain aggregate demand Increases in public spending (incl. rescue packages ) have been introduced, despite a sharp drop in revenues (esp. oil exporters) Selective support to various industrial sectors deemed to be critical during the period of the crisis Increase in minimum wages in several countries and some income protection schemes have been introduced Greater focus on employment and social protection is required to speed up labour market recovery

12 Implications Measures taken often do not constitute a comprehensive response; more focus on employment and social protection needed More emphasis needed on measures to mitigate the impact on women, young people and vulnerable groups, including migrant workers Opportunity to enact policies not only to mitigate short term crisis impacts but to rectify pre-existing imbalances and structural challenges and contribute to the achievement of longer-term objectives Use Global Jobs Pact adopted by the International Labour Conference (June, 2009)

13 The Global Jobs Pact An expression of government, workers and employers commitment to work together to overcome the crisis and its negative impact on labour markets (ILC, 2009) It contains a policy portfolio that countries can adapt to their specific needs and situation, covering: Accelerating employment creation, jobs recovery and sustaining enterprises Building social protection systems and protecting people Strengthening respect for international labour standards Social dialogue: bargaining collectively, identifying priorities, stimulating action Shaping a fair and sustainable globalization The Pact has strong international and regional backing and endorsement from: G20 Heads of State UN General Assembly UNDP Board Numerous other international and regional bodies

14 The GJP and Arab States The gains in Arab labour markets in the past decade are threatened by the crisis and need to be preserved The foundations of an employment-centred recovery and a jobrich pattern of growth must be strengthened by addressing the structural challenges in the region: Slow labour productivity growth Low demand for skills High dependency on the dynamics of the international oil market as well as international aid and labour migration Slow rate of poverty reduction in recent years Small proportion of the region s population that enjoys adequate social security Low labour force participation of women High levels of youth unemployment

15 Employment and social protection focus Developing employment policies Strengthening employment services Skills development Improving labour market monitoring mechanisms Providing better protection against the risk of unemployment Ensuring sustainability and extending coverage of social security Strengthening national social protection strategies and monitoring mechanisms

16 Policy inventory ILO/World Bank inventory of policy responses to the crisis Common questionnaire covering macroeconomic/investment/sectoral policies, LM policies, Social Protection, Rights at Work and Social Dialogue ILO: 60 countries, including G20 From the Arab Region: Bahrain, Jordan, KSA, Egypt Evidence-based analysis, monitoring, evaluation, policy dialogue

17 Selected issues for discussion How has spending on labour market and social protection policies been affected by the crisis? What measures has your country taken to tackle the labour market impact of the crisis? How effective have these measures been and how are they monitored? What has been the involvement of the social partners in the crisis response? What role could regional coordination play in mitigating the crisis impact at the national level?

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