ASCAME ultimates a plan to reactivate and rethink the post COVID-19 Mediterranean economy

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Barcelona, ​​June 11, 2020 - The Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME) held yesterday its virtual Bureau meeting, focused on analysing the situation of the region and the economies of the Mediterranean countries after the COVID-19 pandemic. It was concluded to start designing a plan to reactivate the regional economy, help its most affected sectors and companies, and rethink the model for growth and sustainability in the region.

After the official welcoming speeches by the President of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Joan Canadell, and the President of ASCAME, Ahmed M. El Wakil, various Presidents of Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce who participated in the meeting presented the situation of the economy and businesses in their respective countries, such as Spain, Italy, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon or Algeria, among others. They emphasised that this crisis reminds us of the importance of community, proximity, interdependence and the Mediterranean project of integration and solidarity, as a commitment to a programme with a long-term vision.

ASCAME considers it urgent to mitigate the impact of the crisis, guarantee the recovery of tourism and allow the sector to play a leading role in the overall recovery. Therefore, it is necessary to promote stimulus measures and provide financial incentives for investment, tourism exploitation and the best preparation for the future. Supporting SMEs and protecting the most vulnerable groups is essential, as well as reviewing taxes that affect transport and tourism, including tourism among the economic emergency mechanisms at a national and regional level, restoring confidence and stimulating demand.

On the other hand, the Association advocates urgently to promote initiatives to make trade flows more robust. The construction of digital platforms will be crucial to adapt in the long term to this new type of crisis. The review of logistics processes, their incorporation into the digital revolution, and the use of big data to efficiently manage logistics flows, will also be strategic.

The ASCAME Committee will also support cooperation between companies in the region in sectors such as agriculture, medicine, pharmaceuticals and logistics. He will bet on his plan for the three revolutions: the green one (with renewable and circular energies as a priority), the blue one (especially the maritime economy) and, above all, a new digital and innovation agenda. These will be the levers for value creation because they will transform the way of doing business and will have a multiplying effect both on business and national growth.

R+D+I is the engine to build and consolidate a knowledge economy and implant a culture of creativity. The transition to the fourth industrial revolution, combined with a governance crisis, makes it essential to reconsider human capital and adapt education to the labour market in order to achieve prosperity and stability in the Mediterranean region.

With this objective, ASCAME will launch a programme at the beginning of July for the recovery of the most affected Mediterranean sectors, such as tourism and transport, which will also support the more traditional sectors, such as agriculture, textiles and industry. The Mediterranean region will be offered as a destination to relocate European companies that want to move from Asia and bet on a new digital, green and blue model.

We have to rethink the future. COVID-19 has accelerated the need to consolidate our traditional economic sectors and to promote new ones. This will be the only way for survival and development, the fuel for constant progress and the model for the rise of companies, countries and the Mediterranean region as a whole.

Obtaining financing is one of the most decisive points to succeed in this situation. As Anwar Zibaoui, ASCAME’s General Coordinator has stated, “Hundreds of thousands of SMEs could go bankrupt, or are about to go bankrupt, due to this new crisis. We are certainly experiencing one of the most difficult periods in the history of SMEs. Entrepreneurs have difficulty resisting the shock and accessing financing on reasonable terms for their operations or expansion”.

ASCAME advocates joint work and public-private collaboration, encouraging governments in the region to promote appropriate and urgent measures to support the private sector and work side by side to rescue the economy and place the Mediterranean region as the great global economic, business and logistics platform.

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