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MENA Governments Should Address Needs of Investors, World Bank Group Study Finds


In Cairo:
Riham Mustafa, IFC
Phone: +20 2 461 9150

E-mail: rmustafa@ifc.org

In Washington:
Lara Saade
Phone: +1-202-473-9887

E-mail: lsaade@worldbank.org


Muscat, Oman, February 7, 2013—Governments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are not doing enough to attract foreign investors, compounding the economic problems facing several countries in the wake of the Arab Spring, says a new report from the World Bank Group.

The study, released today, found that government-run investment promotion agencies need to do a better job of providing information and assistance to potential investors. During a World Bank Group assessment, 16 of the 19 national investment agencies in MENA failed to respond to inquiries from prospective investors. In a region viewed as risky because of recent political events, helping foreign investors has taken on greater importance.

“Business opportunities are being lost in MENA countries because of the continued dominant presence of the public sector in the economy and a public image worsened by the recent unrest in many countries of the region,” said Pierre Guislain, Director of the World Bank Group's Investment Climate Department. “Repairing investor perceptions of risk with effective reforms and good business information is vital. Implementing simple, low-cost, practices to facilitate investment can play a key role in helping economies in the region.”

The report shows that some agencies have done a good job of reaching out to investors despite political instability. The website of Tunisia’s Foreign Investment Promotion Agency was rated among the world’s top 20 websites, and that of Yemen’s General Investment Authority improved dramatically. Several other agencies, including those of Egypt and Morocco, also demonstrated good practices.

The new study is titled Global Investment Promotion Best Practices 2012: Seizing the Potential for Better Investment Facilitation in the MENA Region. It was released today during a regional conference in Muscat, Oman co-hosted by Oman’s Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (PAIPED) and sponsored by the Government of Spain.  

“MENA has much to offer and to gain from international companies and, collectively, we have most of the skills and knowledge we need to be very competitive investment facilitators,” said H.E. Salim Nassir Al-Ismaily, PAIPED Chairman. “This three-day workshop will allow us to learn from each other and further develop how we promote our countries.”

The report was produced by the Investment Climate Department of the World Bank Group (which includes IFC, MIGA, and the World Bank) and was sponsored by the Government of Spain. For more information about the Global Investment Promotion Best Practices program, please visit www.globalinvestmentpromotion.org

About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit www.worldbank.org, www.miga.org, and www.ifc.org.

About PAIPED
The Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (PAIPED) is a government organization whose mission is to facilitate investment into Oman and develop exports of Omani products and services. PAIPED works closely with all government agencies to ensure the Sultanate’s competitiveness in the international market, and has a network of representatives in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.