In preparation of the upcoming foreign affairs and trade policy of the Dutch government, last February 40 experts gathered in the Hague, including Assarwa – MENA Business Consultants. The meeting was organized by the foundation Het Grote Midden Oosten Platform with the goal to present a list of policy recommendations to Sigrid Kaag, the Dutch minister for Foreign Trade and Development Aid, about how the Netherlands could help to tackle the youth unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa.
The youth unemployment there is one of the highest in the world of 30% or more (the Netherlands around 9%), taking also into account that 60% of the population is younger than 30 years. This unemployment is in the region a source of social unrest (eg. the recent protests in Morocco against the underdevelopment and unemployment in the Rif area), for recruitment of terrorist organisations (eg. most Tunisians state that their countrymen only joined terrorist groups for the money) and illegal migration towards Europe (eg. a lot of Algerians want to emigrate to Europe, because they think that they cannot find work or sufficient income in their own country).
This situation is even more painfully, because this generation has also a very creative and entrepreneurial side. This is apparent from the different start-ups and innovations initiated by them, like the energyless refrigerator Fresh'it from the Moroccan start-up Go Energyless or the Egyptian crowd innovation platform Yomken. Luckily, most Arab countries are more than aware of this problem and through stimulation programs and economic visions try to tackle youth unemployment and promote innovation. As part of these, many countries try to bring foreign, European companies and knowledge on board. However, only a few European companies are aware of these opportunities, partly because their own governments provides very little attention to them.
The solutions have to be sought, according to Assarwa – MENA Business Consultants, in better informing Dutch companies on the opportunities which these countries offer, and strengthening the mutual trade between the European Union and the MENA region. This doesn't only includes the opportunities for certain main sectors, like agriculture, energy and water, but also to point the new local incentives out to Dutch companies which are beneficial to them (like subsidies and tax cuts) on top of existing benefits under trade treaties with different Arab countries (like tariff reductions and rules of origin). Such useful information is currently lacking on Dutch government sites, like the RVO, but luckily enough Assarwa – MENA Business Consultants has this knowledge in-house. Please contact us for more information through firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Synergos Institute