Middle East & North Africa 2020 Outlook
Middle East and North Africa countries' outlooks increasingly diverge in 2020. Domestic private sector activity is likely to strengthen in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, while the UAE will receive a temporary boost from Expo 2020. Political instability in Algeria and Tunisia and piecemeal reform in Lebanon will delay growth opportunities in those countries. Morocco, Kuwait, and Qatar will remain reliably stable. Low oil prices, lack of significant tax/subsidy reform in core markets, and easing interest rates will reduce operating cost pressures on business. However, regulatory changes, local team/distributor training, and the need for aggressive sales and competitor customer insight collection will keep costs high. US-Iran tensions; ongoing missile attacks from Yemen into the rest of the Gulf; government outlook uncertainty in Lebanon, Algeria, and Israel; and difficult recoveries in post-conflict countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Libya will complicate operations. MNCs will benefit from focusing on brand building, ingraining customer loyalty, and boosting distributor capabilities to position themselves for the region's slow medium-term growth outlook.
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