The ITC Office for Arab States covers 21 countries which are all members of the Arab League. With a total surface area of 13.6 million square kilometres and a combined population of about 377 million, the Region is characterized by cultural, geographical as well as economic diversity.
Most of the countries of the Region share similar development challenges. From a trade perspective, it is remarkable that despite its favourable geographical location for intra-regional as well as international trade, the region’s trade performance is below its potential.
• Diversification Exports show low levels of diversification in terms of products and markets, which increases the risk of negative external shocks. Oil exporting countries display a much higher product concentration than elsewhere in the Arab States given their focus on extractive and refining industries. However, non-oil exporters and Arab LDCs also show very low product diversification compared to similar countries outside the Region.
The Office for Arab states provides assistance to improve SME competitiveness to connect to value chains, to identify diversification opportunities and promote investment.• Institutional capacities for trade promotionThe Arab States display a stark inconsistency between their needs in terms of providing trade support services and their institutional capacity. Only 11 out of 21 countries have dedicated national Trade Promotion Organizations (TPOs).
Given the importance of value chains in international trade, the Office for Arab states increasingly focuses on strengthening trade and investment support institutions (TSIs), and business service providers’ capacity as forces to effectively facilitate SME growth and expansion into international markets. In addition, ITC promotes and activates regional and international networks between TSIs of various countries, including the promotion of South-South business linkages.
• Trade facilitation / Business environment The business environment in the Arab States has improved, but not as the rest of the world. Many countries around the globe improved their standing on issues influencing their business environment and the relative position of the Arab States vis-à-vis other regions has not improved significantly.
The Office for Arab states supports partner countries in fostering a business environment that is conducive to trade growth by facilitating the inclusion of the private sector perspective into the policy-making process. The ITC assists in institutionalising public-private dialogue for the formulation of trade strategy and policies at national and regional levels.
• Employment, women and youth development Unemployment, especially among the youth, is among the most important economic and social challenge that policymakers of the Region are facing today. The Arab States lag behind most other regions in creating productive and decent employment, particularly for women and youth.
In this context, ITC has implemented active projects for supporting employment generation such as EDEC and COM-TEXHA.
Patterns from Palestine
Développement des exportations pour la création de l’emploi « EDEC »
Projet d’appui à la compétitivité de la chaîne de valeur du secteur textile et habillement « COM-TEXHA »
Addressing Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) to promote Intra-Arab trade
Virtual Market Places