This paper analyzes the weak growth performance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region during 1980-2000 using an empirical model of long-run growth. The relative importance of the factors affecting growth is shown to vary across 16 MENA countries. In GCC countries, where oil revenues are significant, large governments appear to have been a key factor stifling private-sector growth and impeding diversification. In other MENA countries poor institutional quality has held back growth. Political instability is also shown to have played a role. While the MENA region's growth differential with east Asia is explained well in the 1980s, this is less so in the 1990s.
Mobilization of national saving is an important determinant of investment and growth. It assumed greater importance in the case of the Iranian economy, given the difficult external environment. This paper discusses the recent saving performance of the Iranian economy, particularly in relation to investment needs. Following a quantitative evaluation of the determinants of saving, the paper reviews the main implications for domestic economic policies in the period ahead.
Ms. Sena Eken, Mr. Mohamed A. El-Erian, Ms. Susan Fennell, and Mr. Jean-Pierre Chauffour
This paper provides an economic overview of the very diverse countries within the large geographical area. It highlights the economic challenges and opportunities facing the MENA region, the policies pursued by the countries in the region, and the outlook for the external environment. The paper concludes with eight policy recommendations.