The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economic and energy sectors in the broader Mediterranean was the topic of the virtual meeting Between Crises and Opportunities: The Pandemic’s Implications on the Economic and Energy Sectors in the Broader Mediterranean, second debate organised by ISPI in preparation of the annual Med Dialogues Conference, scheduled for December. An event established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which has been held ever since 2015, with the participation of the leaders of the regional Governments and institutions, together with representatives of the business world and of civil society, academics and experts. The webinar, chaired by Luigi Nardone, Director of the Mena (Middle East and North Africa) programme at the EUI (European University Institute), analysed the ways in which the economic shock caused by the pandemic is likely to strain the structural weaknesses of the Middle East and North Africa countries and to increase their vulnerability, especially in the face of the collapse of oil prices. The World Bank’s data forecast that the costs of the dual shock for Mena countries may amount to 3.7% of GDP, or more than $ 110 billion in 2020. According to experts, these dynamics will also affect the socio-political equilibrium in the region, already strained by the growing socio-economic grievances and by the discontent of younger generations. During the seminar, the experts also highlighted how the macroeconomic impact of the pandemic will produce different effects in the various countries. For example, its consequences are likely to be significant in Lebanon, which was already experiencing a severe economic and financial crisis, while Morocco could be among the countries that are less damaged and with a faster recovery. Furthermore, it was also emphasised that economies with better hospital infrastructure, such as Saudi Arabia, will be the least affected by the pandemic. Concern was expressed regarding the fact that in a context of socio-economic uncertainty, social distancing measures may not be respected, strengthening the spread of the pandemic. The seminar therefore insisted on the importance of a reconsideration of fiscal stimulus policies, so as to be able to guarantee conditional monetary transfers to groups without social protection systems. Finally, the fundamental role of new technologies and the importance of improving the infrastructural conditions of the region were reiterated.
You may watch the webinar at the following link: