This paper reviews the fiscal revenue performance of Southern Mediterranean Arab countries (SMCs) over the last decade and compares this performance with selected middle income and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. These revenues have been declining over the past few years, and this trend is expected to continue because of a fall in mineral receipts and trade liberalization. Individual income tax yields are substantially lower than in other regions but the introduction of the value-added tax has proven to be highly successful. Higher trade protection than in other regions must be reduced, if SMCs are to be integrated into the global economy. Loss of nontax and customs revenues can be offset by reforms in income tax systems, petroleum product pricing, and by ensuring, through flexible exchange rate policies, that competitiveness is maintained
The paper analyzes the scope and implications of greater economic integration in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). After reviewing whether MENA satisfies the defining characteristics of a region, it documents the low level of regional economic interaction. It argues that gains from greater regional interactions will depend primarily on implementing domestic reform and external policies that, in any case, are needed for the region to benefit from the broader process of globalization of the world economy. It also discusses measures aimed directly at facilitating regional interaction.
Two years ago, citizens in the Arab world—fired by their ideals and visions of a better life—ignited a social movement that inspired people around the globe. In Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen—the so-called Arab countries in transition—people embraced change, ushering in a new era. This issue of F&D looks at the difficulties of this transition, focusing on long-standing forces that shape the region’s economy and offering options for moving ahead to achieve strong, inclusive growth. • Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, maps out an agenda for modernizing and diversifying the region’s economies in “Toward Prosperity for All.” • In “Freedom and Bread Go Together,” Marwan Muasher addresses the intersection of economic progress and political change. • Vali Nasr, in a Point of View column, underscores the vital role small and medium-sized enterprises play in a successful democratic transition. Elsewhere in this issue, we look at how surging oil and gas production in the United States could shake up global energy markets; the effect of uncertainty on economic growth; and Mexico’s competitiveness rebound. F&D's People in Economics series profiles Christina Romer, former chair of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers and an architect of the U.S. stimulus package; and the latest installment in our Back to Basics series explains how structural policies help to both stabilize and strengthen economies.