With the persistence of the war in Ukraine, economic uncertainty continues to prevail globally and in the Arab region, where the war on Gaza and the Sudan conflict are weighing on economies and slowing down growth, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) warned.
These findings were released by ESCWA in the 2022-2023 issue of its annual "Survey of Economic and Social Developments in the Arab Region."
With the stabilization of oil and gas prices at moderate levels in 2023, the regions gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to grow around 3.6 percent in 2024 and 4.2 percent in 2025; however, current predictions bring the figure down to 3.3 percent for 2024, the survey reported.
Poverty rates in Arab low-income and conflict-affected countries have jumped from 56 percent and 45 percent in 2019, respectively, to about 63 percent and 50 percent in 2023. The war on Gaza is threatening to push the entire population of the Strip, about 2.3 million Palestinians, into multidimensional poverty, which will affect the whole country as well as Lebanon, according to the survey.
This years edition also highlights that inflation reached 12.3 percent in 2023 in the Arab region, mainly because of the halting of the Black Sea Grain Initiative which had a significant negative impact on the prices of essential food items imported by Arab countries.
Moreover, the outlook in Arab least developed countries (LDCs) also remains highly uncertain and gloomy, affected by the escalating conflict in Sudan. The Survey notes that the subregions GDP could decrease by 3.8 percent on average during the 20232025 period, with Arab LDCs continuing to face constrained fiscal space and challenging socioeconomic conditions. Nevertheless, their fiscal deficit is expected to improve from 3.2 percent of GDP in 2023 to 2.6 percent and 2.3 percent in 2024 and 2025, respectively.
On the social front, besides high poverty rates, the Arab region continues to register the worst global gender gap score worldwide, and the estimated time to bridge this gap is over 150 years according to the Survey. As for unemployment, it is estimated to be around 11.6 percent in 2023 and may marginally decrease to 11.5 percent in 2024.
One of five United Nations regional commissions, ESCWA supports inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in Arab States and works on enhancing regional integration.
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