The Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region has played host to several highly significant trade-related developments over the last year.

As covered by GTR, these have included the resumption of talks between Iran and the US over the possibility of restoring the Iran nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; the boom in trade between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which topped US$1.1bn during the first year of their peace agreement; and a move by Egypt’s central bank to overturn an earlier decision requiring domestic firms to use letters of credit rather than documentary collection when buying from abroad. We include our analysis of some of these events in this annual GTR+ Mena publication.

Our coverage of the Mena region – and elsewhere – has also focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the resultant seismic disruption to food, energy and finance markets. The impact of the conflict, and concerns over future developments, are woven throughout this publication. Our trade and economic overview takes a detailed look at the consequences of the war for the region’s oil prices and commodities markets, as well as its effect on trade and investment relationships. Elsewhere, our report on Egypt profiles the difficulties of a country with a long history of food-related unrest, and which relies on Russia and Ukraine for as much as 80% of its grain imports.

Also in this issue, we feature a roundtable discussion with regional trade leaders – hosted in Dubai in the weeks before the conflict in Ukraine – which outlines participants’ hopes for a post-pandemic trade recovery and details the opportunities being driven by increased demand for supply chain finance and efforts to digitalise trade.

At that time, the World Trade Organization’s Goods Trade Barometer had signalled a possible turning point for trade as supply pressures began to show signs of easing. But the most recent barometer, issued as this publication goes to press, scales back that earlier optimism as a result of the war, as well as a return to lockdown in parts of China.

The immense impact and unpredictable nature of such events are likely to impose even more strain on a complex and already heavily stressed trade environment. As one roundtable participant notes: “Clients want certainty but we just don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”