The Arab Coordination Group and the World Bank met on Friday to strengthen cooperation on critical development issues and policy reforms in the Arab region, and to take the partnership to a more substantive level.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund.
There is an ongoing strategic partnership between the World Bank and the Arab Coordination Group, which comprises bilateral and multilateral Arab development institutions, aimed at improving the quality and inclusiveness of growth, maximising job creation, and achieving economic transformation supported by joint investments, analytical work, and advocacy and convening.
High-level representatives attending the meeting recognised the need to jointly support countries in setting policies to underpin investments in specific sectors with a view to achieving more sustainable and forward-looking development; lay the groundwork for a digital economy by bolstering IT infrastructure and the regulatory environment for digital payment systems and financial services; improve learning outcomes through education reforms and market-relevant skills development; accelerate private sector development by promoting competition and innovation policies, supporting ecosystems for small and medium-sized enterprises, and improving business and investment climates; and strengthen regional cooperation on water security, energy trade, and financial sector development, with a focus on financially inclusive and integrated Arab economies.
Representatives also recognised the need to continue helping countries strengthen their resilience to climate change, including through climate-smart investments, all within the framework of helping countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Both the World Bank and the Arab Coordination Group institutions are natural strategic partners, having a long record of supporting development,” said Ferid Belhaj, World Bank vice president for Middle East and North Africa.
“This strategic partnership is aimed at building synergies and closer collaboration to help achieve stronger and longer-lasting impact in the region, building on a shared vision for a stable, prosperous, dynamic MENA that harnesses the vast potential of the region’s greatest assets, its youth and women – a region that is open for business.”
The meeting paves the way for joint policy dialogue, investment financing and analytical work, and outreach to stakeholders in the region, and is expected to enable the development of joint policy reform packages, sharpen the focus on results, improve project planning, and prepare joint events to further operationalise the partnership.
“We are glad to enter a new stage of our already strong partnership with more ambitious objectives and with the aim of strengthening policy dialogue as a cornerstone for sustainable and lasting growth,” said Abdlatif Y. Al-Hamad, dean of the ACG and the director-general and chairman of the board of directors of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development.
“With our combined resources and expertise, we are better equipped to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Arab countries are poised to lead discussions in several cross-regional and global fora, from Egypt’s chairing of the African Union, the G20 presidency of Saudi Arabia in 2020, and Morocco’s hosting of the 2021 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the IMF.
The World Bank-ACG strategic partnership is a complement to these important international discussions and will support the region’s efforts to put forward an ambitious yet achievable global development agenda.
The next high-level World Bank-ACG meeting will take place during the 2019 World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings in October, during which representatives will take stock of the progress in advancing the partnership’s agenda and how it can be accelerated further.