Weekly Update: MENA

Caroline Scullin, cscullin@cipe.org, 202-721-9200

Iraq – As a result of business community advocacy led by CIPE partner the Iraqi Businessmen Union (IBMU), the Advisory Commission of the Iraqi Cabinet announced the formation of a committee to implement several economic laws supported by the Iraqi private sector. These laws, including the Customs-Tariff Law, Consumer Protection Law, and the Products Protection Law, were passed in 2010 but have been implemented either partially or not at all. IBMU is leading advocacy efforts for these laws as part of a CIPE-supported project to improve public-private dialogue in Iraq. On December 10, IBMU organized an advocacy session to review specific articles of the Products Protection Law with the Parliament’s Economic and Investment Committee, and representatives from the private sector, banking industry, civil society, and academia. Multiple news agencies covered the event and reported the Advisory Commission’s announcement, including Al-Fayha’, Iraqi Media Network, Ur News Agency, Al-Furat, and Al-Hurra.

Iraq – CIPE partner the Karbala Chamber of Commerce conducted an advocacy roundtable focused on the issues facing Karbala’s commercial sector that were raised in Karbala’s Provincial Business Agenda. Participants reviewed the impediments to private sector growth, including tariffs, unfavorable legislation, problems with infrastructure, access to finance, and industry and investment promotion. Sixty-one stakeholders participated, including the Deputy Chairman of the Provincial Council, advisors to the governor, one of Karbala’s representatives to the national parliament, as well as leading business associations, civil society, and academics. Participants formed a six-person public-private committee to continue work on these issues. Iraq’s NINA news channel covered the event.

Tunisia – MENA Regional Director Abdulwahab Alkebsi and Program Officer Pamela Beecroft visited Tunisia. In Tunis, they met with four political parties from across the political spectrum to present CIPE’s upcoming economic platform training workshops co-hosted with the International Republican Institute (IRI). In order to assess training needs, CIPE and political party representatives discussed how parties are currently developing economic platforms. All parties expressed interest in participating in the CIPE-IRI program and CIPE will use the information they shared to further develop its training manual for future workshops. In Sousse, Mr. Alkebsi and Ms. Beecroft attended one day of the Journée d’entreprises, an event with over 1,000 participants organized by CIPE partner Institut arabe des chefs d’entreprises. At the event, Mr. Alkebsi moderated the panel “Towards a Tunisian economic landscape protecting investors and fighting corruption,” which included Tunisian Minister of Governance and Anti-corruption Mr. Abderrahmane Ladgham and a longtime CIPE partner from Egypt Mr. Osama Mourad. Members of the newly-launched Syrian Economic Forum, also a CIPE partner, were also present and participated in several panels.

West Bank/Gaza – As part of a CIPE-supported project to strengthen corporate and democratic governance, the Palestine Governance Institute (PGI) convened a workshop entitled “Oversight Committees in the Legislative Council: Prospects of Revival” in Ramallah. Speakers included Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics at Birzeit Univerity Dr. Mohammad Nasr, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Bassam Salhi, CEO of the Financial and Administrative Oversight Board Dr. Samir Abu Zneid, CEO of the Palestine Industrial Council Ayman Sbieh, Chairman of the PLC Economic Committee Dr. Ahmad Abu Houli, and Executive Director of PGI Dr. Hisham Awartani. The main objective of the workshop was to encourage the PLC members to take a more active oversight role in the organization. After a vibrant debate, the panelists and participants welcomed PGI’s initiative to revive the oversight functions of the PLC.


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