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Euromoney Kuwait Conference 2017
September 16, 2017, 2:26 pm

Euromoney, the world’s leading organizer of conference for the banking and investment community, is to hold the ninth iteration of Euromoney Kuwait Conference on 26 September, in Kuwait City.

Held in association with the Ministry of Finance, the conference aims to highlight topical financial and economic issues through informative, interactive and perspective talks and panel discussions.

The high-profile conference will feature an impressive panel of speakers that include among others, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Anas Al-Saleh, the Governor of Central Bank of Kuwait, Dr. Mohammad Yousef Al-Hashel, , Head of Debt Management Department, Ministry of Finance, Abdulaziz Al-Mulla, Deputy Group CEO, National Bank of Kuwait, Shaikha Al-Bahar and Chairman Gulf Bank and CEO Alghanim Industries, Omar Alghanim, to name a few.

Among the topics to be covered by the conference are the 2030 New Kuwait Plan, upcoming energy and infrastructure projects, as well as the government’s economic consolidation and diversification drives in the wake of falling oil revenues.

Ahead of this year’s conference in Kuwait, Euromoney conducted an interview with Oussama Kanaan, director of the International Monetary Fund’s Middle East Centre for Economics and Finance, about the challenges facing the Arab region today, from regional conflicts to fluctuating oil prices, and their ultimate effect on the region’s economy.

With reference to the downward trend in oil prices, Mr. Kanaan referred to the reform programs undertaken by all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to mitigate the serious effects on their public finances brought on by low oil prices. “They have undertaken tough measures such as raising the price of petrol and oil-fueled products, as well as electricity. But making these adjustments requires a sound planning framework along with good communications networks to keep the public informed and to manage expectation,” he said. He also warned that despite measures taken across the region, there are doubts regarding the ability of countries to adjust to new realities.

On the impact of low oil prices on importers, Mr. Kanaan said, “Despite the fact that the fall in oil prices has been a good thing for nations that import oil from the Arab region, they have subsequently begun to lose a lot of remittances from the oil-exporting nations. Foreign aid contributions have also become more uncertain.”

He added that regional conflicts have also contributed to the challenges faced by Arab nations, and apart from the huge toll on their economies, the inevitable refugee crisis poses uncertainties among countries that are not directly subject to conflict as well, he said, citing the examples of Jordan and Lebanon.

Due to the lack of any indication that conflict in the Arab region will end any time soon, and with low oil prices promising to continue into the foreseeable future, it is important that countries prepare for significant challenges by putting in place prudent economic policies and, in general, being prepared for a continuation of this uncertain environment, at least for the medium term. 

When asked about the external threats faced by the Arab region, he described it as two fold. On one hand, they face countries like China and other dynamic emerging markets, which are growing much faster than Arab countries and ultimately proving to be tough competitors in terms of trade. And, on the other hand, there is uncertainty around the openness of trade with the region’s partner countries in Europe and beyond.

To tackle these challenges, Arab countries should aim to make their economies more competitive and diverse; the latter being especially crucial given their over dependence on oil revenues. Countries must also put in place development strategies that place the private sector at their heart and focus on diversification, to provide a foundation that is both competitive and global in its outlook.


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