The economies of the southern and eastern Mediterranean region (SEMED) are still slowing down, although a modest pickup is expected next year, according to the latest Regional Economic Prospects report issued by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Economic growth has slowed down across the four SEMED countries, including Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, the report said, noting that unemployment, especially among the youth, remains a chronic problem in all four countries and remained persistently high in 2012. The report indicated that Jordan and Morocco have faced weak external conditions and high commodity prices while in Egypt and Tunisia, volatile political and security conditions have weighed on the economy, adversely affecting investor confidence. In Egypt, growth is seen slowing to 2.0 per cent in 2013 from 3.1 per cent in 2012, the report said, noting that “while all SEMED countries remain vulnerable to external shocks, Morocco is expected to grow at 5 per cent in 2013 thanks to a rebound in agricultural production”. While the IMF programmes currently in place in Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia will help investor confidence and buffer against external shocks, a loan agreement with Egypt is still under negotiation, the EBRD said in its report, noting that reaching an agreement could help cement necessary structural reforms and unlock needed external assistance. The SEMED region is likely to expand this year at the same rate as in 2012 (+3.0), but growth is projected to pick up in 2014 (+4.1) helped by a modest recovery in Egypt as well as stronger growth in Morocco, the report said.