Arab region faces two scenarios for economic growth in 2021: UN report
BEIRUT, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) on Tuesday projected the growth rate in the Arab region next year at either 3.5 percent or 2.8 percent.
The ESCWA report, "Survey of Economic and Social Developments in the Arab Region," said that the actual path will hinge on the ability of Arab countries to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused losses of about 140 billion U.S. dollars for the region, resulting in an estimated -3 percent growth contraction in 2020.
The ESCWA warns that, although growth is expected to be positive in both scenarios, it will not be enough to yield decent job opportunities.
Indeed, the region's unemployment rate is expected to rise to 12.5 percent in 2021.
Unemployment will reach its regional highs in Palestine (31 percent) and Libya (22 percent), while exceeding 21 percent in Jordan and Tunisia and hovering around 5.8 percent in Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
"The crisis faced by the Arab region goes beyond the economic realm to encompass major social challenges," explained the lead author of the report, Mohamed Hedi Bchir.
"The region is also suffering from rising poverty, with an average rate that might reach 32 percent in 2021, affecting 116 million people. It is grappling with rising youth unemployment, with an average rate that might reach 27 percent; and with persisting gender inequality as it registers the world's highest gender gap of 40 percent," he said.
Bchir further underlined that the challenges faced by the region require extensive efforts from Arab governments to provide the necessary social safety nets, especially in communities hosting refugees and migrants where there is growing fear of further deterioration in living conditions due to the economic recession in donor countries. Enditem