Dabrowski, M. and M. Domínguez-Jiménez (2021) ‘The socio-economic consequences of COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa’, Bruegel Blog, 14 June
n the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic created a new reality. Each country has implemented different measures to contain the pandemic, which has had many consequences for society and businesses. The purpose of this paper is to improve understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumer behavior in the BRICS countries and discuss the role of consumer trust and anxiety. A systematic literature review with a bibliometric analysis was carried out to identify research directions and reveal the role of trust and anxiety in consumer behavior. Differences in consumer responses to the COVID-19 pandemic challenges in Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa were identified based on an analysis of an international database of online surveys. An empirical study of Russian consumers was conducted in the spring of 2020. Cluster and factor analyses were applied to reveal different consumer strategies of coping with the crisis. The study revealed differences in consumer trust and the level of anxiety in the BRICS countries. In the empirical study of Russian consumers, anxiety was identified as one of the factors in changing consumer behavior in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Four years after its launch, Rome MED – Mediterranean Dialogues has established itself as an annual conference and global hub for high-level dialogue aimed at enhancing debate among policy-makers and experts around current trends and challenges stemming from the Mediterranean region. The goal is to lay the groundwork for mutual understanding and trust building among regional actors, as a prerequisite for drafting a positive agenda. The third edition of this Report offers a vast array of insights, data and analyses on political, socio-economic and security dynamics unfolding throughout the region. In particular, the first section of the Report focuses on positive trends and achievements brought forward by regional actors. It also provides policy recommendations to strengthen these positive dynamics, with a view to further improving the socio-economic, political and security contexts in the Mediterranean basin. The second section turns the spotlight on the main security, political, economic and cultural challenges the region is currently facing.
The Report collects insights, analyses and policy recommendations from different perspectives and countries, also thanks to the collaboration of MED research partners and international experts.
In the second half of the 2010s, the economic situation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) deteriorated as a result of lower oil and other commodity prices, a new round of domestic political instability, continuous intra-regional conflicts, stalled economic and governance reforms and, finally, the COVID-19 pandemic. The deteriorating macroeconomic trends manifested themselves in slower growth rates (which in 2020 turned negative almost everywhere), worsening fiscal and external balances, increasing public debt and, in several cases, higher inflation. There has been no visible progress in resolving long-term structural and institutional challenges such as high unemployment, especially among youths, low female labour market participation, poor quality of education, costly and ineffective public sector activity, high military and security spending, high energy subsidies and others.
This book contains a unique collection of studies on key economic and social policy challenges faced by countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region in a short- and long-term perspective. Prepared within the EU funded FP7 project on „Prospective Analysis for the Mediterranean Region (MEDPRO)” conducted in 2010-2013 it takes account on recent political developments in the region (Arab Spring) and their potential consequences. It covers a broad spectrum of topics such as factors of economic growth, macroeconomic and fiscal stability, trade and investment, Euro-Mediterranean and intra-regional economic integration, private sector development and privatizations, infrastructure, tourism, agriculture, financial sector development, poverty and inequality, education, labor market and gender issues.
Infectious diseases are a significant danger for every country in the world. Active spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) today is another striking example of the issue. States have long been making joint efforts to achieve effective results in combating infectious diseases through the adoption legal and various other measures. The paper gains an insight in the theoretical issue of the key developments that occurred in the field of study throughout history. It improves understanding of importance of main goals that states pursued while developing international law. In order to achieve such results, the main international legal documents adopted throughout history in this area, and their contents are analyzed. Throughout history three main historical phases identified. Two very opposite approaches on combating infectious diseases were found by the author in legal documents. The analysis indicates that currently international cooperation, the involvement of states in joint activities to combat diseases in the framework of international organizations has increased. However, highly criticized approach based on Westphalian principles is still underlines international regulations on combating infectious diseases. The methods employed in the paper include inductive and deductive analyses, as well as historical and teleological method. The work is the starting point for further research in this area.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian policy towards the Middle East has been marked by inconsistency and unexpected U-turns. This has made it hard for Western policymakers to understand whether Russia’s presence in the Middle East represents a source of cooperation or of future conflict between Moscow and the West. On the one hand, Russia’s stance on Syria, its refusal to recognize the threat posed in the past by Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes, and its frequent attempts to penetrate and, in some cases, to dominate the energy and arms markets of Middle Eastern countries have raised concerns among Western powers. On the other hand, over the same period, Russia’s initial de facto support of Western involvement in the Libyan conflict in 2010–11, its cooperation to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue in 2012–15, its initiatives on conflict resolution in Yemen in 2011–12, and its refusal to export S-300 missile systems to Syria in 2013–14 offered hope that Moscow could play a positive role in the region. The nature of Russia’s interaction with the Middle East has shifted since 2012. After the re-election of Vladimir Putin for a third term in 2012, Moscow substantially increased its presence in the region. It became more deeply involved when, on 30 September 2015, Russia launched airstrikes against groups opposing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. This set a new precedent. Before September 2015, Russia had tried to avoid any fully fledged involvement in military conflicts in the region. This was also the first time Russia focused on air power instead of ground forces – an approach often used by the US
Moscow is extremely interested in keeping Iran in the sphere of its influence. First of all, Iran’s geostrategic position allows it to influence the situation in the Caspian Sea region, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East. This, in turn, compels Moscow to discuss a wide range of foreign policy issues with Tehran. Given the shared visions on how to handle most of these problems, the support of Iran is believed to be important to the success of Moscow’s activities to restore and strengthen Russia’s regional position after the fall of the Soviet Union. Finally, both Moscow and Tehran are interested in saving the remaining government institutions in Syria. This common task plays in favor of Russian-Iranian cooperation, although each country certainly has its own reasons for saving the remnants of the regime.
Russian strategy in the Middle East comprises several elements. First,Moscow is persistent in defending what it sees as its red lines in the region. Thus, Russia is against any military intervention not approved by the UN Security Council. It does not welcome forced regime change if it leads to the destruction of existing state mechanisms. The Kremlin is also concerned about any change of borders in the Middle East, and it is firmly against any dialogue with radical Islamists and jihadists. Moscow’s flexibility has enabled it to talk to different forces in the region and, if necessary, play the mediator’s role. However, Russia is respected by Syria’s regional opponents, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, for the stubbornness it demonstrates when defending its own red lines in the region. Accordingly, the Saudis and Qataris are compelled to take Russia’s point of view into account and retain some dialogue with the Kremlin.
Second, Russia seems to be trying to reclaim its Cold War role as acounterweight to the U.S. in the region. Yet, the Kremlin does not directly oppose Washington, but rather exploits the region’s pre-existing disappointment with the U.S. through practical moves, which contrast American and European behavior. Thus, the reluctance of Washington to protect Mubarak, compared with the Russian support provided to Assad,encourages regional powers to consider Moscow a more reliable partner.
Third, Moscow avoids using ideological rhetoric in its official dialogue with the countries of the region.Unlike in the former Soviet space,the Russian leadership does not impose its views either by force or by means of economic coercion. In dialogue with the countries and political groupings of the region, Moscow tries to focus on existing commonalities rather than differences and contradictions. In all cases, the Kremlin also remains extremely pragmatic. Russia does not raise the question of political freedoms in Iran and tries not to be critical of Israel’s policies in Palestine and Gaza in spite of its support for a two-state solution. Moscow tries to support a dialogue with all countries in the region without expressing obvious support for any particular state or coalition, and, so far, it has been partly successful in doing so.
Finally, in its economic efforts, the Kremlin focuses on those areas where it has market advantages: nuclear energy, oil and gas, petro-chemicals, space, weapons, and grain. At the same time, Russian business in the Middle East is based on the adage of “Chinese price for European quality.”Thus, price and reliability were the main reasons for interest from Middle Eastern countries in Russian nuclear technologies.
This chapter focuses on the important area of integration of the Greater Eurasia project: defense and security in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapter examines in detail the defense and security dimension of Greater Eurasia through the example of military cooperation between China and Russia as the main driver of Greater Eurasia. It is concluded that by 2016, an "average" level of military interaction had been achieved in Russian-Chinese relations, which opens up opportunities for further integration. However, given that relations between the two great powers are built on a solid foundation of national interests and sovereign equality, further military integration of Russia and China is being questioned. The pandemic, in the context of growing contradictions with official Washington, has intensified the more self-confident and assertive behavior of official Beijing in the foreign arena.
The paper examines the structure, governance, and balance sheets of state-controlled banks in Russia, which accounted for over 55 percent of the total assets in the country's banking system in early 2012. The author offers a credible estimate of the size of the country's state banking sector by including banks that are indirectly owned by public organizations. Contrary to some predictions based on the theoretical literature on economic transition, he explains the relatively high profitability and efficiency of Russian state-controlled banks by pointing to their competitive position in such functions as acquisition and disposal of assets on behalf of the government. Also suggested in the paper is a different way of looking at market concentration in Russia (by consolidating the market shares of core state-controlled banks), which produces a picture of a more concentrated market than officially reported. Lastly, one of the author's interesting conclusions is that China provides a better benchmark than the formerly centrally planned economies of Central and Eastern Europe by which to assess the viability of state ownership of banks in Russia and to evaluate the country's banking sector.
The paper examines the principles for the supervision of financial conglomerates proposed by BCBS in the consultative document published in December 2011. Moreover, the article proposes a number of suggestions worked out by the authors within the HSE research team.