Arab Economic Challenges and Opportunities in the Wake of the Uprisings


Presented by
The Middle East Institute and
The Safadi Foundation USA Arab Economic Challenges and Opportunities
in the Wake of the Uprisings

Dr. Toufic Gaspard
Economic Adviser, Lebanon Ministry of Finance

Moderated by
Kate Seelye
Middle East Institute

Friday, April 20, 2012
12:00 – 1:00pm
1761 N Street, NW
Washington, DC

The Middle East Institute is proud to host Dr. Toufic Gaspard, the economic adviser to Lebanon’s minister of finance, for a discussion about how non oil-exporting Arab economies are likely to fare in the face of heightened political uncertainties. What are some of the fundamental socio-economic features they all share and what steps must they take if their economies are to enjoy sustained growth in the medium to long term. Gaspard will focus on Arab economies in Egypt and the Levant to examine how to solve the dominant regional problems of unemployment and poor productivity with the goal of establishing  social and political stability. Drawing from his deep knowledge of Lebanon’s economy, Gaspard will examine the economic and political pitfalls that Arab economies should avoid, as well as the constructive steps they must take to achieve sustained growth.

Bio: Dr. Toufic Gaspard is currently the economic adviser to Lebanon’s minister of finance.  Previously he worked at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC as adviser to the executive director, and in academia, lecturing in economics at the American University of Beirut, and in the political economy of the Middle East at Balamand University. He has also worked as a commercial banker with Chemical Bank (now Chase) in New York, Brussels and Beirut, and as director of research at the Central Bank, Banque du Liban. In 2004, he published the book, A Political Economy of Lebanon, 1948-2002: The Limits of Laissez-faire.  Dr. Gaspard is currently working on a book on labor and economic development in the Middle East.


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Event Wrap-Up: Panel Discussion on Arab Countries in Transition

Event Wrap-Up: Panel Discussion on Arab Countries in Transition
Click here to watch video.

On Monday, April 9, 2012 Stimson, George C. Marshall Foundation and Safadi Foundation USA hosted a panel discussion entitled, “Arab Countries in Transition: An Update on International Support One Year after the Deauville Partnership.”  The panel was moderated by Mona Yacoubian, Director, Pathways to Progress: Peace, Prosperity, and Change in the Middle East Project at Stimson.  Panelists included: Masood Ahmed, Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department, International Monetary Fund; Inger Andersen, Vice-President, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank; and Dr. Peter Howard, Coordinator for the Deauville Partnership, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, US Department of State.

In their prepared remarks, the panelists assessed progress made in supporting Arab transitions by the United States and international financial institutions since the launch of the Deauville Partnership at last year’s G8 summit. They also addressed future challenges. The common theme expressed by all the panelists was that the Deauville Partnership presents a unique opportunity to bring all invested stakeholders together, creating a new framework that will strengthen coordination efforts among them.

Masood Ahmed noted the ongoing challenges Arab countries face and emphasized the need to address social and structural issues that limit people’s access to opportunities in the region.  He specifically highlighted unemployment issues that initially drove the revolutions. He further stated that while the Deauville Partnership has been useful as a platform for bringing key actors together, the next step is to go from a framework to country-specific deliverables.

Inger Andersen highlighted the “democratization of development,” elevating demands for enhanced governance as critical for successful transitions. Key elements include increased transparency and accountability. Andersen also emphasized the significance of participation in the Deauville Partnership by non-traditional partners such as the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council nations and various regional banks, noting that their presence enhances the Partnership’s representative nature.  She underscored the importance of their involvement as an important impetus for encouraging regional economic integration. Andersen also noted the need for developing a strong domestic business environment by providing better access to financing, facilitating small and medium enterprises, and improving education so as to nurture a skilled labor force.

Dr. Peter Howard discussed how the marshaling of international support has changed the United States’ approach to the region, noting ways the United States government is looking to economically support successful transitions. He provided a brief review of the three “pillars” for undertaking Deauville Partnership activities: economic, governance, and trade, noting progress made to date under each pillar.

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