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Forum to address impact of latest developments

IISS Bahrain Bay Forum to discuss Mena positioning for new world (dis) order

Gulf News

Manama: The latest global developments, including the sweeping changes in the political landscape across the US and Europe that have given rise to populist demands for a protectionist trade agenda and inward-looking economic policy management, precipitated the United Kingdom’s ‘Brexit’ vote and impacted the regional political landscape will be among the major issues to be addressed by a forum in Bahrain on Sunday.

The “navigating emerging risks: economics and business in a new world (dis) order” forum organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Bahrain Bay Forum, will also discuss how these global developments, along with recent regional tensions, could reshape the future of the trading system and have serious implications for the global and regional economic outlooks, affecting the business environment.

The forum will assess this emerging new (dis) order and its associated risks, and discuss the outlook and implications for economic policies and corporate behaviour at the regional and global level.

The lead session on Sunday is set to assess whether the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has lost its safe-haven status amid elevated political risks. It will also review the outlook for trade and the economy in the US, UK, EU and key emerging markets amid policy uncertainties and how businesses and multinational companies are coping and mitigating risks amid heightened uncertainty about trade, geopolitics and market conditions.

The panelists for the first session will be Sweden’s former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, US former Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, Gao Haihong, Director, the Research Centre for International Finance, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and John Knight, Executive Vice-President, Global Strategy and Business Development, Statoil.

The second session will explore the outlook for the global oil and gas market, as well as renewables, and discuss what adjustments regional countries are making to cope with such changes.

According to the forum organisers, the oil and gas market is undergoing profound structural changes, which will determine the path for prices amid greater volatility.

“The outlook for industry and investment is also directly affected by the US administration’s energy policy, aimed at boosting US shale production, and recent decisions that will undermine the climate change agenda and commitments to the COP21 emissions targets.”

Bahrain’s Oil Minister Shaikh Mohammad Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Neil Atkinson, Head, Oil Industry and Markets Division, International Energy Agency, Simon Buckle, Head of Climate, Biodiversity and Water Division, Environment Directorate, OECD and Ken Koyama, Managing Director and Chief Economist, Strategy Research Unit, Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, will highlight how new US energy policies will impact global oil and gas markets, as well as the investment outlook for national and international oil companies. They will also emphasise whether recent tensions could undermine the coherence of Opec actions.

Implications of a possible reversal in climate change commitments and how they be avoided will also be debated by the panelists who will also discuss how Mena oil and gas exporters are positioning their sectors and reshaping strategies and policies in response to a more volatile market and what should they do differently to promote green growth.

The third plenary session will focus on meeting the macro challenge: domestic reforms for sustainability and will discuss whether reform has progressed in Mena and GCC countries and raised the level of political risk. It will also comment on the extent to which recent GCC tensions are likely to affect further progress.

The panelists will also debate the key policies and initiatives that should be used to strengthen the non-oil growth drivers and encourage the private sector to expand its own contributions to growth and employment and what the GCC can learn from the experiences of Mexico, Indonesia and Malaysia, which managed to diversify successfully.

The fourth session will review the outlook for private capital flows towards emerging markets, given the global macroeconomic backdrop and what factors are shaping international investors’ strategies for deploying capital towards Mena countries given the changing domestic and international environment. It will also review what strategy countries should adopt for mobilising capital and minimising the risk of outflows towards developed markets?

The fifth session will debate how geo-economic shifts in Asia are creating opportunities for MENA countries’ external trade and investment policies amid greater policy uncertainty in the West.

As China’s Obor is aimed at improving connectivity and integration across a wide geography with high growth potential, and the newly established Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will serve as its financing arm, questions have been raised about the geopolitical motives behind China’s initiative and the feasibility of several proposed projects.

At the same time, India’s accelerating economic growth and its large energy needs are elevating relations with MENA countries to strategic levels. The panel will reflect on how Mena countries can tap into unexplored trade and investment linkages with Asia.