Marrakesh — The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde has stressed that countries in the Arab region are prioritising creating jobs, which is an aspect that has already seen significant progress, “though not sufficient enough thus far.”
Lagarde pointed out, in her speech at the opening of the conference Opportunity for All: Promoting Growth, Jobs, and Inclusiveness in the Arab World currently being held in Marrakesh, Morocco, that over 27 million young people in the Arab region will enter the labour market over the next five years. The region has the highest unemployment rate in the world, reaching an average of 52%, which was the highest rate European countries reached during the financial crisis.
Lagarde noted that 60% of the region’s citizens believe that nepotism is the main factor for finding proper jobs.
The managing director of the IMF believes that the increasing dissatisfaction in many countries across the region is a reminder of the need to take urgent measures. She pointed out that improvement in the international economy, which achieved 3.7% growth in 2017, can be utilised efficiently. It is expected to continue its growth to reach 3.9% this year.
Lagarde said that the Arab region will witness an increase in growth rates, but only by 3.5% in 2018 and 2019, down from a growth rate that reached an average of 5.6% from 2000 to 2008, mainly due to conflicts and falling commodity prices.
However, according to Lagarde, there are many promising models and much progress made by some Arab countries in their reform programmes. In addition, steps will be made to improve the economic and financial chances of young people and women, as well as enhance the growth of the private sector.
Lagarde noted that the financial technology sector has recovered as the number of companies which adopted financial technology increased sevenfold in the Arab region since 2009, especially in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates.
Lagarde noted that progress has been made in terms of improving the investment climate and limiting bureaucracy, as well as enhancing small and medium enterprises. She also warned that these projects are facing difficulty in the Arab region as a result of inability to access funding resources and weak legal frameworks.
Lagarde said that the conference in Marrakesh, which includes experts and representatives of over 20 countries, focuses on creating a discussion about ways of setting an agenda that is based on three priorities. They include creating an active private sector that contributes to achieving high growth rates, as well as creating more jobs and supporting classes still marginalised in economic systems: women, youth, residents of rural areas, and refugees, with the aim of providing them with jobs and