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International Monetary Fund
Diversification of the GCC economies, supported by greater openness to trade and higher foreign investment, can have a large impact on growth. Such measures can support higher, sustained, and more inclusive growth by improving the allocation of resources across sectors and producers, creating jobs, triggering technology spillovers, promoting knowledge, creating a more competitive business environment, and enhancing productivity. The GCC countries are open to trade, but much less so to foreign direct investment (FDI). GCC foreign trade has been expanding robustly, but FDI inflows have stalled in recent years despite policy efforts taken to reduce administrative barriers and provide incentives to attract FDI. Tariffs are relatively low; however, a number of non-tariff barriers to trade persist and there are substantial restrictions on foreign ownership of businesses and real estate. The growth impact of closing export and FDI gaps could be significant. In most countries, the biggest boost to growth would come from closing the FDI gap—up to one percentage point increase in real non-oil per capita GDP growth. Closing export gaps could provide an additional growth dividend in the range of 0.2-0.5 percentage point. Boosting non-oil exports and attracting more FDI requires a supportive policy environment. Policy priorities are to upgrade human capital, increase productivity and competitiveness, improve the business climate, and reduce remaining barriers to foreign trade and investment. Specifically, continued reforms in the following areas will be important: • Human capital development: continue with investments made to raise educational quality to provide knowledge and skills upgrade. • Labor market reforms: aim to improve productivity and boost competitiveness of the non-oil economy. • Legal frameworks: ensure predictability and protection; efforts should include enhancing minority investor protection and dispute resolution; implementing anti-bribery and integrity measures. • Business climate reforms: focus on further liberalizing foreign ownership regulations and strengthening corporate governance; and on further reducing non-tariff trade barriers by streamlining and automating border procedures and streamlining administrative processes for issuing permits.
Mr. Bassem M Kamar and Samy Ben Naceur
Coordinating macroeconomic policies is a pre-requisite to a successful launch of the common currency in the GCC countries. Relying on the Behavioral Equilibrium Exchange Rate approach as a theoretical framework, we apply the Pooled Mean Group methodology to determine the similarity of the impact of a selected set of macroeconomic indicators on the real exchange rate in each country. Our empirical evidence points to a clear coordination of monetary policy, fiscal policy, government consumption, and openness across the member countries. While RER misalignments also show a substantial convergence building over time, differences in the misalignments of the two polar cases remain rather substantial, calling for further coordination and policy harmonization.
Mr. Luca Errico and Mr. Alberto Musalem Borrero
The paper takes a closer look at offshore banking—a pervasive practice that has played a role in recent crises. Offshore banking is an increasingly attractive alternative to the sometimes heavily regulated financial markets of emerging economies. From a microeconomic vantage point, offshore banks seem to exploit the risk-return tradeoff by being more profitable than onshore banks, and in many instances also more leveraged. Risks stemming from offshore activities may be easily transmitted onshore with systemic consequences. Current prudential and supervisory frameworks are broadly adequate for risk management if effectively and universally implemented.
International Monetary Fund

Abstract

In recent years, the appropriate level and structure of interest tates have come to be seen as major issues in connection with stabilization programs undertaken by members. These issues arise from consideration both on the demand side, as interest rates affect the magnitude of aggregate demand, and on the supply side, as they influence the volume and quality of investment and, thus, the growth of output.