NDN’s new MENA Initiative hosted Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats on June 26th. U/S Hormats overseas all Economic, Energy, and Environmental policy at the State Department and has been at the very center of formulating and implementing the American economic response to the Arab Spring. In his remarks, he highlighted the important – if under reported – efforts undertaken by the State Department to support economic growth throughout the region. He also emphasized the importance of projects like NDN’s MENA Initiative for building stronger support for a more expansive economic growth strategy in these transition countries.
Ultimately, a stable, prosperous, and democratic region is in all of our interests. The region requires stability and patience is needed by its own people and by us because some changes take a considerable amount of time. We have to support them as new democracies. Contrary to what some have said, the Arab Spring has not turned into an Arab Winter. Much progress has been made. And there are many many opportunities for us to play a constructive role. We have to work with the people and understand their desires – and have specific and constructive measures to put on the table. Rhetoric will not suffice; concrete support is needed on financing, trade, and support for SMEs.
Despite progress in key areas— growth in the region has not been inclusive.
Quite simply, many people in the region have not had the opportunity to participate productively in their economies or their societies. This is a challenge that we, and the new governments, have to address. Providing more people with the opportunity to participate productively in their economies and benefit from them will lead to greater and more broadly based prosperity but also to a sounder base for political and social reforms.
The full transcript of U/S Hormats’ remarks is available here.