Middle East and North African economies will grow by an average of 3.8 per cent a year in the next decade, the World Bank says in a new report. This compares with 0.8 per cent annual average growth in 1983-93.

The report, Global Economic Prospects & the Developing Countries, says the highest growth rates in 1994-2003 will be registered in countries not dependent on oil exports.

The most advanced graduates of economic adjustment programmes, Morocco and Tunisia, will perform best, the bank predicts. Both economies are forecast to grow by 4-5 per cent a year and the bank says their growth could be boosted higher still if the pace of structural adjustment is maintained, ‘moving closer to the growth levels of the high-performance East Asian economies’.

Also expected to do well are Egypt and Jordan, which have seen growth in foreign direct investment and other private capital inflows.

The prospects for peace will boost the economies of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and the occupied territories, the report says. Iraq’s economy is expected to grow rapidly once UN sanctions are lifted and it is reintegrated into the world economy.

Prospects for oil exporters are less favourable. Budget and external payments difficulties in Algeria and Iran will affect their medium-term growth, the report says. In other oil producing countries, the growth of hydrocarbons and petrochemical production and exports will partly offset the relatively low level of oil prices throughout the 1994-2003 period.