The MENA region suffers from a fragile private sector that is weakly connected with global markets and thrives largely under state patronage. Although extensive state-business interactions can form the basis for dynamic capitalism, they can also become sources of insider influence, corruption and other forms of rent-seeking, that distort politics, regulation, judicial functioning and business incentives. In MENA, the system of de facto privileges and restrictions has created a corporate pyramid composed of a small number of connected firms at the top, where competition is muted, and a large base of small firms at the bottom.
Seeing that private sector development has been traditionally viewed through a narrow economic lens, ERF launched a call for proposals on The Political Economy Determinants of Private Sector Dynamism in The ERF Region with an objective to unpack business-state relationships in order to develop a better understanding of the mechanisms used to privilege insiders and to exclude the vast array of firms within the wider political economy framework of various countries, and to assess the broader economic effects of such practices. The call generated multiple papers covering various topics related to cronyism in banking sector and capital markets, corruption in the job market, firm ownership, rules versus deals and public private partnerships, among others.
This seminar is intended to provide a platform for discussing the findings of these research activities, and the perspectives of the different stakeholders: researchers, policymakers and the private sector. Drafts of the papers were discussed in a workshop that was held in Oxford in June 2015.
The primary objective of the seminar is to provide a platform for the discussion of research findings among a well-informed diversified audience, including international experts, regional academics and policymakers and the media. Ultimately, the discussion is meant to be of relevance to policymakers in the MENA region.
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