Broader Middle East and North Africa


Starting in 2003 an important new dialogue began between (1) the countries of the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) and (2) the United States and other G8 countries.  By the summer of 2004, the leaders from the G8 and BMENA officially launched the Forum for the Future at the Summit in Sea Island, Georgia.   The Forum supports efforts to advance political and economic freedom in the region.  There are two main channels of the Forum, corresponding to the promotion of economic freedom (mainly finance ministries) and political freedom (mainly foreign affairs ministries).


Treasury Secretary John Snow led the finance ministry channel of the Forum during its start-up phase.  He hosted several meetings with regional finance and economic ministers - beginning in Dubai in 2003 and continuing with two meetings in Washington in 2004. In December 2004 he joined Moroccan Finance Minister Oualalou to co-chair the finance minister channel in Rabat. 


Setting up these meetings was difficult because of understandable sensitivities, and one of the first meetings could be described as s bit tense and rocky. Emphasizing country ownership of reforms was essential, but country ownership was  always a principle of the Bush Administration and genuinely part of the Forum for the Future from the U.S. perspective.  By the meeting in Rabat, it was clear that this was going to be a productive and action oriented group, and the last meeting I attended in Washington in April 2005 pointed to even greater decrees of cooperation.    I believe that this new partnership is one of the most important and exciting developments in the area of international economic cooperation in many years.


The speeches in this chapter all come from the years 2004 and 2005, reflecting the fact that this initiative was developed later in the first term and was related to the encouragement of greater political freedom in the region, which in turn is related to the global war on terror.


Item 1 shows using modern growth theory that people’s lives in the region could be improved greatly by a greater degree of economic freedom.  Regrettably, for years economic progress in the region has been hampered by many restrictions on trade and entrepreneurship.  Items 2 through 5 describe several aspects of the forum itself. 



1. Economic Growth in the Greater Middle East, International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC, April 7, 2004

2. Encouraging Economic Freedom in the Broader Middle East and North Africa, American Chamber of Commerce, Casablanca, Morocco, December 11, 2004

3. The Governance/Investment Nexus: Measuring Results for Better Performance, Good Governance for Development in the Arab Countries Conference, Dead Sea, Jordan. February 6, 2005  

4. Working Together to Raise Economic Growth in the Broader Middle East and North Africa, World Economic Forum, Davos, January 29, 2005

5. The Private Sector’s Role in Promoting Economic Growth in the Broader Middle East, World Economic Forum, Davos, January 28, 2005