Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Structural changes, the foundation of economic development in the Mediterranean

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Tuesday, May 26th 2015 à 12:02 | Read 778 times

To ensure its economic development and improve overall productivity, a country must commit to a strategy that reallocates resources linked, or not, to an industrial policy. A study by Femise analyses the scope of these structural changes in four countries, namely Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey.

Today, services in Turkey represent more than 60% of its GDP (photo F.Dubessy)
Today, services in Turkey represent more than 60% of its GDP (photo F.Dubessy)
The latest study* by Femise (the Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Institutes of Economic Sciences) was undertaken with financial support from the European Investment Bank and the European Commission. It focuses on the outcomes of resource reallocation strategies in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey. All countries have experienced structural changes, making the shift from an agricultural-based economy to one geared towards services and industrial sectors.
The structural changes within the process have been happening at very different rates. Agriculture accounted for 50% of GDP in Turkey in the 1960’s whereas today, services represent more than 60% of its GDP. The pace of change has been slower in Morocco with industrialisation by small increments (25-30% additional jobs in industry over the last twenty years).
Significant differences in productivity remain due to a transformation process that is still insufficient. Turkey stands out for it strong growth in overall productivity whereas structural change is struggling to have any effect on the Egyptian and Tunisian economies.

The report identifies a major cause for this shortcoming. The process of structural change to ensure the shift towards a service-based economy manifested itself in Turkey by a reallocation towards high-productivity sectors like finance and insurance. At the same time, in Egypt, this transfer involved low-productivity service industries. Between the two, Tunisia benefited from two levers for development, i.e. tourism and finance.
Despite considerable efforts made in education, the Femise report also highlights a mismatch between supply and demand. The report points out that, “The labour market has not anticipated suitable job options for the educated population”. This shows the slow pace of structural change and the difficulty in making the shift to an industry generating high value-added products.  

Since the start of the century, these four countries have turned towards targeted industrial policies, including support for R&D, environmental protection and incentives for SMEs, especially through tax exemption schemes. The latter has been used as a lever for development at a regional level and also to restore balance between various regions. Egypt has favoured tax benefits for companies setting up in new industrial zones or urban communities and disadvantaged areas while Turkey is targeting its poorest provinces by granting investment incentives to businesses that extend right up to a complete income tax exemption.

* Structural transformation and industrial policy – Volume 1 : A comparative analysis of Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. Izak Atiyas, Ahmed Galal and Hoda Selim

Version française


About is an independent media that deals with the daily economic news of the countries bordering the Mediterranean. Economic cooperation, business news by sector (Industry, Services, Transport, Environment, Society/Institutions), thematic files, airport news, airlines and shipping companies (new destinations)... are treated and analysed by a team of journalists present in the Mediterranean basin. Subscribe to To be the first to know, with unlimited access to all articles. To receive the weekly newsletters and special newsletters sent as soon as our files are published. Automatically renewable subscription, but the reader keeps control of it or yearly subscription. For individuals or professionals...