There is currently no Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Iran. The last Interim Assistance Strategy which covered the period 2002-2003 was extended through 2005. No new World Bank loans to Iran have been approved since 2005 and all projects have closed.
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WASHINGTON, October 12, 2014 – The World Bank Group and th... Show More +e Islamic Development Bank announced an agreement today to coordinate efforts on education as one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality and for laying the foundation for sustained economic growth. The initiative is aimed at developing joint strategies for improving education and training systems in member countries of both organizations, with a primary focus on the Middle East and North Africa region.“The Arab world has made impressive gains in ensuring access to education, but we know from the high levels of youth unemployment that urgent work is needed on the quality of learning,” said Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President. “Our goal is to draw on the complementary strengths of both organizations to develop strategies for the entire path from school to work, to make sure young people not only have the right skills for the labor market, but that they can become the engines of growth.The Education for Competitiveness initiative was signed by World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim and his counterpart at the Islamic Development Bank Group, President Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani. The initiative will consolidate and build on collaborations already underway on research to boost the employability of Arab youth and in support of regional efforts to improve the quality of education. The Education for Competitiveness initiative will focus the full range of both organization’s resources and expertise on the entire educational spectrum from early childhood development through to higher education and jobs training. The initiative is motivated by the conviction that human development is essential for sustainable growth, and that it requires a sequenced combination of education, training, and labor market activities."The critical importance and far-reaching implications of addressing the education-employment nexus across the region cannot be overstated,” said Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani, President of the Islamic Development Bank Group. “Our two institutions fully understand the daunting job creation challenge facing our common member countries, which is why we have decided to join forces in our quest for innovative and effective solutions under the overarching theme of education for competitiveness".Each organization has identified a dedicated team that will form part of a joint working group. The initiative will organize all activities around three main pillars. The first, Education for Lifelong Learning, will focus on the quality of learning in levels K through 12, with an emphasis on promoting critical thinking and problem solving. This pillar will include support for policy reform, better governance of institutions and teacher training. The second, Education for Employment, will build on ongoing work on the relevance of education to labor market demand, with support for skills development for young people and women, training to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, vocational education and job matching systems. The third pillar, Learning for a Competitive Economy, is aimed at building human capacity in areas where comparative advantages exist to strengthen the ability of national economies to adapt to changing global market conditions. “We estimate that the school age population will surge to about 10 million over the next 15 years,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa. “This represents a tremendous opportunity for the region, but effective educational systems will be essential in allowing this vast human resource to reach its full potential.”The Education for Competiveness initiative is also intended to attract other international organizations and donors with similar goals, to increase the impact of development projects focused on training and education by broadening coordination and pooling resources, and avoiding the duplication of efforts. Show Less -
WASHINGTON, October 10, 2014 – The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has long struggled to generate enough quality jobs for its large and increasingly educated workforce, but this c... Show More +an be turned around. Governments can make significant strides in job creation by reforming policies used to protect politically connected companies, which would in turn promote competition, and ensure equal opportunities for all firms, according to a new regional World Bank study.Jobs or Privileges: Unleashing the Employment Potential of the Middle East and North Africa, launched today highlights the central role of promoting competition to stimulate private sector growth. It establishes that young and productive firms generate employment in the region’s economies. Policies to protect privileged insiders, however, have constrained competition, and stifled the growth and productivity of these firms.“The employment challenges of the MENA region are inextricably linked to its economic governance challenges,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa. “The economies of the region will need to be more open and provide a level playing field for job creation to increase and meet the needs of citizens.”The report offers a comprehensive analysis of the harm to competition caused by privileges to politically connected firms. In Egypt, employment growth declines by about 1.4 percent annually when connected firms enter new, previously competitive sectors. According to the report, 71percent of connected firms in Egypt, compared to only 4 percent of all firms, sell products that are protected by at least three technical import barriers. In Tunisia, 64 percent of politically connected firms operate in sectors subject to restrictions on Foreign Direct Investment relative to only 36 percent of non-connected firms.“Start-ups and innovative firms are the engines of job creation in MENA but they are having trouble growing,” said Marc Schiffbauer, World Bank Senior Economist and lead author of the report. “These firms currently face a host of obstacles in the business environment that are too often there because they benefit a few politically connected firms”.The report draws on newly available economic data to identify the patterns of privilege to connected firms, their distortive effects on policies and detrimental impact on job creation. In assembling the most comprehensive firm census database ever put together for the region, the report also contrasts the impact of industrial policy as practiced in MENA countries with the more successful experience of a number of East Asian countries.The report highlights a number of economic policy reforms across the region such as reducing the scope of privilege which will require a strong public administration, hired on the basis of merit, to implement the policy changes and build open markets that are resilient to the risk of capture. The report recommends that these reforms be implemented in a transparent and open policymaking environment that keeps citizens aware of government action and allows them to provide inputs into policy. Show Less -
Across the Middle East and North Africa, countries are being forced to face up to a harsh reality—that, left as they are now, their economies won’t create anything like enough jobs for the hundreds of... Show More + thousands of people entering their job markets each year. Popular discontent will continue alongside widespread economic inactivity. What can they do to change this?Official data, made available only since the Arab Spring in 2011, has given World Bank researchers the opportunity to compare the region’s job performance and the policies that shape them, and examine what’s going wrong. Their conclusions are contained in a new report, Jobs or Privileges: Unleashing the Employment Potential of the Middle East and North Africa.The “privileges” referred to in the report are the many old policies that continue to protect the business interests of entrenched elites. The report shows the extent to which these policies—designed to prevent or deter competitors while allowing elites to make easy money or “to earn rents”—distort the natural workings of economies in which businesses either grow and become more productive, or exit the market. In this environment, political connections are more important for success than innovative spirit.The newly available census data unearthed for the report reveals how firms linked to former regimes in Tunisia and Egypt were given undue privileges, or business advantages: in Egypt, for example, 71 percent of politically connected but only 4 percent of unconnected firms sell products protected by at least three import barriers; while in Tunisia, 64 percent of connected firms but only 36 percent of non-connected firms operate in sectors in which Foreign Direct Investment is restricted.Privileged insiders also have outsized influence over such sectors: one of the best-known cases is that of the American fast food giant, McDonalds, which never managed to enter the Tunisian market because it rejected an exclusive offer from a franchisee with ties to the regime of the country’s former leader, Ben Ali.Privileges like this put local entrepreneurs without political connections at a disadvantage, stunting domestic investment. Uncertainty over which economic policies a government might adopt—and whether they will be implemented evenly—deters foreign investors. Show Less -
This report argues that Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries face a critical choice in their quest for higher private sector growth and more jobs: promote competition, equal opportunities for... Show More + all entrepreneurs and dismantle existing privileges to specific firms or risk perpetuating the current equilibrium of low job creation. The report shows that policies which lower competition in MENA also constrain private sector development and job creation.The report is organized in four chapters as follows (PDF):Chapter one analyzes the dynamics and determinants of job creation and tests whether the fundamentals of job creation in MENA are similar to those in fast growing developing and high income countries.Chapter two shows how different policies in MENA countries shaped private sector competition and thus the firm dynamics associated with job growth identified in chapter one.Chapter three documents past industrial policies in MENA and compare the experiences in MENA with the experiences of East Asian countries, highlighting how the differences are linked to policy objective, design, and implementation.Chapter four analyzes how privileges to politically connected firms result in policy distortions that undermine competition and constrain private sector growth and jobs in MENA.The report concludes by laying out the implications for policy of the various findings and lays out the specific areas for policy reform to the roadmap for more private sector growth and jobs in MENA.Briefs (PDF)Unleashing the employment potential of the Middle East and North AfricaStartups and Innovative Firms Wanted : Private Sector Growth and Job CreationDistorted Dynamics: The Impact of Policies on Firm Dynamics and Job CreationAvoiding Pitfalls of Industrial Policy: Building Open and Effective Institutions for Private Sector Development and JobsPrivileges instead of Jobs: Politically connected firms receive generous policy privileges undermining completion and job creation Show Less -
WASHINGTON, October 6, 2014 – Remittances by international migrants from developing countries are on course for strong growth this year, while at the same time forced migration due to violence and con... Show More +flict has reached unprecedented levels, says the World Bank’s latest issue of Migration and Development Brief, released today.Officially recorded remittances to developing countries are expected to reach $435 billion this year, an increase of 5 percent over 2013. The growth rate this year is substantially faster than the 3.4 percent growth recorded in 2013, driven largely by remittances to Asia and Latin America.Remittances to developing countries will continue climbing in the medium term, reaching an estimated $454 billion in 2015.Global remittances, including those to high-income countries, are estimated at $582 billion this year, rising to $608 billion next year.Remittances remain an especially important and stable source of private inflows to developing countries, as they bring in large amounts of foreign currency that help sustain the balance of payments. In 2013, remittances were significantly higher than foreign direct investment (FDI) to developing countries (excluding China) and were three times larger than official development assistance."Remittances to developing countries grew this year by 5 percent. Remittance inflows provided stable cover for substantial parts of the import bill for such countries as Egypt, Pakistan, Haiti, Honduras, and Nepal. India and China lead the chart with projected remittance inflows of, respectively, $71 and $64 billion in 2014. In addition, India and the Philippines benefit from having migrants with the most diverse destination spread, thereby creating buffers against regional shocks. Given the growing importance of this sector, the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief has become an essential tool for global development policy experts,” said Kaushik Basu, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank Group.The brief notes that the global average cost of sending remittances continued its downward trend in the third quarter of 2014, falling to 7.9 percent of the value sent, compared to 8.9 percent a year earlier. However, the cost of sending money to Africa remains stubbornly high, exceeding 11 percent.Remittance flows are expected to grow robustly to almost all regions of the developing world, except Europe and Central Asia, where the conflict in Ukraine and associated sanctions are contributing to an economic slowdown in Russia, home to a large number of migrants from the region. The East Asia and Pacific and South Asia regions will continue to attract the largest remittance flows.India, with the world’s largest emigrant stock of 14 million people, will remain in the top spot this year, attracting about $71 billion in remittances. Other large recipients are China ($64 billion), the Philippines ($28 billion), Mexico ($24 billion), Nigeria ($21 billion), Egypt ($18 billion), Pakistan ($17 billion), Bangladesh ($15 billion), Vietnam ($11 billion) and Ukraine ($9 billion).As a share of GDP (2013), the top recipients of remittances were Tajikistan (42 percent), Kyrgyz Republic (32 percent), Nepal (29 percent), Moldova (25 percent), Lesotho and Samoa (24 percent each), Armenia and Haiti (both 21 percent), the Gambia (20 percent) and Liberia (18 percent).In a special analysis on forced migration, the brief notes that forced migration due to conflict is at its highest level since World War II, affecting more than 51 million people. An additional 22 million people have been forced to move due to natural disasters, bringing the total affected by forced migration to at least 73 million, according to the latest available data.“Despite the encouraging outlook for remittance flows, the circumstances of many migrants are troubling. With so many people on the move against their will and many others undertaking desperate and dangerous journeys, it is clear that more effort is needed to make migration safer and cheaper by exploring economically viable policy options,” said Dilip Ratha, Lead Economist, Migration and Remittances, at the World Bank’s Development Prospects Group and Head of the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD).Forced migration is typically viewed as a humanitarian issue but affects growth, employment and public spending for both origin and destination countries. The issue needs to be examined also through a development lens, says the brief.Forced migration is a major challenge in several regions. In developing Europe and Central Asia, 1 million people in Ukraine have been displaced, while the high-income countries of Europe are receiving record numbers of asylum seekers. Applications to the entire region rose to over 480,000, an increase of 68 percent from 2009.Pakistan and Iran top the world list of refugee host countries, as millions of people from neighboring Afghanistan remain displaced after more than 35 years of conflict. At the end of 2013, nine out of 10 refugees were being hosted in developing countries.The war in Syria has displaced half the country’s population, with 3 million refugees crossing borders and 6.5 million people displaced internally. Most Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, joining millions of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees already there. In 2014, Syrians overtook Afghans as the second largest refugee group, outnumbered only by Palestinian refugees.In Sub-Saharan Africa, internal conflict (including renewed instability in South Sudan and Boko Haram activities in Nigeria) together with persistent drought in the Horn of Africa, are resulting in increased forced migration in the region.Regional Remittance TrendsStrong growth in remittances continues to support macroeconomic stability and economic growth in the East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) region. Remittances to the region are projected to increase by 7 percent this year, faster than any other region, to reach $122 billion. China and the Philippines are the region’s largest recipients, in value terms, but the smaller Pacific islands are most dependent on remittances, where they are a significant share of GDP. Remittances to the region are expected to grow by 4.9 percent in 2015 to exceed $127 billion.Weakening economic growth in Russia, the ruble depreciation, and sanctions imposed on Russia by western countries as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, are expected to slow the growth of remittances to the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region this year to 2.2 percent (from 7.5 percent in 2013), bringing remittance flows to $49 billion in 2014. Russia is the largest source of remittances to countries in the region, and Ukraine is ECA’s largest remittance-recipient country. Dependency on remittances is high in several ECA countries, particularly in Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic and Moldova. Remittances to the region are expected to remain broadly unchanged in 2015.Remittance flows to the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region are likely to bounce back this year, following a weak 2013. Recovery in the United States will benefit Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, which together account for more than half of the remittance flows to the region. In contrast, high unemployment in Spain is negatively impacting remittances to Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay, and Peru. Intraregional remittances from Chile will continue on an upward trend. Remittances to the region are expected to increase by 5 percent this year, compared to 1 percent last year, to $64 billion, rising to $67 billion in 2015.In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, officially recorded remittances are on course to expand moderately this year, rising by 2.9 percent to reach $51 billion in 2014. Flows remain volatile, especially in the three largest recipient countries – Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco. After the sharp fall in flows to Egypt in 2013, remittances are expected to stabilize in 2014, helped by attractive investment opportunities in the planned expansion of the Suez Canal. The ongoing economic crisis and high unemployment rates in Europe will continue to dampen remittances to Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Flows to the region are expected to strengthen in the coming years, growing by 4 percent in 2015 to reach $53 billion.Remittances to the South Asia region are increasing more robustly this year, accelerating from slower growth in 2013. Although flows to India, the region’s largest remittance recipient, will grow modestly by 1.5 percent in 2014, partial year data point to very strong growth in flows to Pakistan (16.6 percent), Sri Lanka (12.1 percent) and Nepal (12.2 percent). The expansion is being led by flows from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, where skilled and unskilled workers are finding renewed job opportunities. As a result, the growth rate of remittances to the region is expected to more than double this year to 5.5 percent (from 2.7 percent in 2013), boosting volumes to $117 billion in 2014 and rising further to $123 billion in 2015.Growth in remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa is picking up modestly this year. The importance of remittances varies greatly across the region. Remittances as a share of GDP are most significant to Lesotho, the Gambia, Liberia, Senegal and Cabo Verde. Flows as a share of foreign exchange reserves are highest in Sudan, Senegal, Togo, Mali and Cabo Verde. Remittances to the region are expected to reach $33 billion this year and $34 billion in 2015. Show Less -
First issue: October 2014 l Corrosive SubsidiesThe report projects regional growth to average 4.2 percent in 2015, slightly more favorable than the 2013-2014 figures. Economic growth ... Show More +could reach 5.2 percent depending on domestic consumption, easing political tensions crowding-in investments in Egypt and Tunisia, and full resumption of oil production in Libya. Show Less -