IMF Middle East Training Center in Kuwait Explores Emerging Global Issues

SUMMARY

About a year after its inauguration, Oussama Kanaan, Director of the IMF’s Middle East Center for Economics and Finance (CEF) in Kuwait, talks about expanding the center’s training capacity to tackle rising global challenges.

 
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  • Center expands training to tackle rising global challenges
  • Inclusive growth, fiscal reforms critical for policymakers in region
  • Training emphasizes private sector development and diversification
  • Since its inception, the center has offered about 120 activities, and provided training to more than 5,400 officials from the 22 countries of the Arab League. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have been important beneficiaries from the establishment of the center, with over 1,600 trained officials to date.

    The CEF’s mission is to build capacity through hands-on training for policymakers from the Arab League, as well as to lead conferences, symposia, and seminars geared at strengthening the design and implementation of sound economic policies for the region.

    IMF Survey caught up with Oussama Kanaan, CEF’s Director, about the center’s recent high-level events, current developments, and how he sees the center expanding to provide solutions to some of the region’s most pressing economic challenges.  

    IMF Survey : How do you see the CEF’s training evolving as a result of new issues emerging from the rapidly changing global environment?

    Kanaan: The Center has been strengthening its training for Arab policymakers and practitioners in the core economic areas of the Fund—notably fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policy, international trade and finance, economic growth, and statistics. In these areas, our program is evolving to support the most pressing issues of the region.

    These include serious macroeconomic and fiscal pressures due to falling oil prices, intensified conflict, and a migration and refugee crisis. Additionally, global challenges, such as climate change and income inequality, should be considered when forming economic policies. This has led us to take an increasingly multidisciplinary approach to complement our core economics courses, and step up our joint training efforts with the World Bank, OECD, and WTO.

    For our most recent symposium, “The World is Fast: How to Understand It and Thrive in It,” which was held last November jointly with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, we chose the broad theme of the economic implications of new global trends. For that event, we invited Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning author, as the keynote speaker. We knew he would enrich the event by taking not only a flexible approach, but also a bold one in discussing many of the pressing global issues...

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