The Regional Forum on the Investment Climate in the Southern Mediterranean Region and the Middle East Cairo, 28 - 29 November 2005, jointly organized by the European Commission, the World Bank Group and the European Investment Bank in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Investment, has been a catalyst of ideas to sustain the economic and social reform and the exchange of best practices.
At the first Regional Forum on the Investment Climate in the Southern Mediterranean Region and the Middle East held on 28 and 29 November in Cairo, government officials, private sector representatives, donors, and other stakeholders from the countries of the region as well as international experts have reviewed the investment climate in the context of reforms. They have discussed the priority areas of reform and the measures taken by the countries of the region. The discussion provided a unique insight into areas of great importance to the region, including improving access to finance and land, strengthening trade, reducing red tape and administrative barriers to investment, and encouraging SMEs' development.
Recent World Bank studies suggest that the region's advantages are far from being fully exploited, with non-oil exports and FDI at one third and one fifth of their potential. The Forum acknowledged that private firms are the engine of economic growth and employment. To meet the challenge of creating employment and income for growing populations, Southern Mediterranean and Middle East countries need to enhance their competitiveness and spur greater private investment.
Hence the policy agenda must focus in priority on accelerating the transition to more open, market-based and competitive economies that allow resources to be used to the maximum benefit for the people. Reforms must address, for each country individually, government policies and behaviors that constrain incentives and opportunities for productive investment and competition and that inhibit private-led employment creation, innovation and growth.
The first Regional Forum on the Investment Climate in the Southern Mediterranean Region and the Middle East was, for the first time, jointly organized by the European Commission, the World Bank Group and the European Investment Bank in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Investment.
Based on a Memorandum of Understanding signed in May 2004 the three institutions are coordinating their initiatives for development in the region, namely the EU's Barcelona Process and the European Neighborhood Policy, the World Bank's regional strategy and the EIB's Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). This will enhance the efficiency of each partner's effort in responding to the development needs of the region.