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World Bank, Washington, DC
Middle East and North Africa | Middle East | North Africa
2020-04-02T18:53:34Z | 2020-04-02T18:53:34Z | 2020-03

A strong regulatory framework can provide essential tools for remote transactions and improve trust in digital trade. Yet, regulations can also introduce restrictions that hamper the conditions for digital markets. Based on a database of 20 Middle East and North Africa countries and 20 comparator countries around the world, this paper shows that the Middle East and North Africa region is falling behind in establishing a modern governance framework for the digital economy. The analysis focuses on a set of regulatory areas, including electronic documentation and signature, online consumer protection, data governance, cybersecurity, and intermediary liability regulations. It assesses each country's domestic regulatory framework in light of recent international trends and regulatory models. The study shows that regulation of digital markets in countries in the region is still in its infancy, being mostly governed by general laws that were not originally intended for the digital era. Some countries have tried to support an export-oriented information technology sector by keeping an updated regulatory framework. However, regulation in most countries in the region, regardless of their level of development, still features some major loopholes that can limit consumer trust in digital markets or reduce certainty -- and increase costs -- for digital businesses.

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