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November 02, 2017
How Are Resource-Dependent MENA Countries Coping with Low Oil Prices? Governance, Macroeconomics, and Diversification

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Since 2014, oil prices have declined to their lowest level in twelve years. In parallel, recent trends, including shifts in energy demand, the abundance of oil, and technological developments, look set to keep petroleum prices low for the foreseeable future. Such changes in world markets are affecting resource-rich MENA economies as government revenues have declined, leading to spending cuts and a decline in reserves, in the process turning current surpluses into deficits. In the meantime, pressure is building to diversify economies and reduce dependence on oil as well as create jobs.

Within this context, the conference aims to address how resource-dependent MENA countries are coping with low oil prices. It will particularly discuss three sets of issues:

1. How should MENA countries manage their macroeconomic and fiscal challenges?
2. What are the political economy prerequisites for diversification?
3. What should we expect from the diversification and reforms currently under way?

The conference will also assess policy options these governments have in terms of balancing macroeconomic constraints, the need for diversification, and labor market conditions, as well as highlight institutional challenges facing MENA countries.

While the conference tackles ramifications of low oil prices across the region, participants will also discuss Lebanon, which recently started taking steps to enter the energy club by launching its first licensing round in October and accepting a pair of bids from interested international oil companies. This dictates that a range of issues must be tackled across various phases of the country’s petroleum sector value chain, including promoting transparency in awarding contracts, improving legal and fiscal frameworks, managing citizens’ expectations, and managing resource revenues.

The conference will gather policy makers, government officials, and experts to consider how best to address such challenges in the MENA region. It will provide a forum for highly interactive debates and showcasing new thinking as well as a space to share policy experience and discuss emerging practices.

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