The economy of Middle East countries has achieved steady growth in 2021-22, supported by the global economic recovery and rising oil prices, experts say. However, they still face tremendous pressure in the coming year.
The experts made these comments on Tuesday in Beijing during the presentation of the annual Middle East Development Report No. 24 (2021-2022).
According to the report, economic developments in Middle East countries were better than expected in 2021 and this good momentum continued into early 2022 on the back of strong domestic demand, global economic recovery and rising oil prices.
Governments in that region have also taken pandemic response measures to support small and medium-sized businesses and vulnerable households and help improve economic performance in most Middle East countries, it said.
Jiang Yingmei, a research fellow at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said the real GDP growth rate of the Middle East and North Africa is 5.8 percent, citing data from an IMF report.
However, the researcher, who is also a co-author of the report, said that the Middle East’s economic recovery in 2023 could face more uncertainties, with downside risks and divergent recoveries in different countries in the region.
Uncertainties such as the Russia-Ukraine crisis and interregional conflicts continue to linger, clouding the region’s economic recovery, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Tang Zhichao, another co-author of the report, said the fallout from the conflict has prompted Middle Eastern countries to reconsider their diplomatic strategies as they have sought diplomatic autonomy amid great-power rivalries in recent years.
“The Ukraine crisis will completely reshape the regional situation…but it will also increase the complexity for solving regional problems,” Tang said.
Liu Dong, a CASS researcher who focuses on the Middle East economy, said it is important for countries in the region to explore their own ways of addressing the development dilemma.
Wu Sike, China’s former special envoy for Middle East affairs, said China-Middle East cooperation is of great importance given the upheaval in the region.
Liu Jianqiao contributed to this story.