The CEO Poll: Mideast turmoil won't hurt us

CEOs say the turmoil in the Arab world won't slow down the global economy.

While the Middle East and North Africa are in the midst of a dramatic political and social transformation, Canadian CEOs feel confident that the unrest won’t cause economic problems here at home. Forty-six per cent of the execs polled by Compas think the Canadian economy will improve somewhat in the next six months, while 42% think it will remain about the same. They did, however, acknowledge that oil prices will likely remain high due to the political situation in the Arab world, giving that possibility a 5.6 on a 7-point agreement scale, where 1 means disagree strongly and 7 the opposite.

While high oil prices could slow economic growth, they will also have a bright side for Canada’s oil industry, say the CEOs. They believe that the influence of Iran in Lebanon and Iraq, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Islamists in North Africa will drive oil importing nations to look increasingly for oil outside the Middle East. The execs believe that these events will overshadow environmental opposition to the oilsands in Canada and abroad, leading to an expansion of the sector. “The Middle East difficulties may well have a moderating effect on criticisms of the tarsands as dirty oil,” said one CEO. Another issued a caveat: “We should also be very clear we would be willing to recognize any democratic government that takes power, and that we will not, in the short term, take advantage or profit from instability.”

Canadian executives don’t think that the events in the Arab world will lead to a global financial crisis: 43% said the world economy will remain about the same in the next six months, while 32% thought it will improve somewhat.

When asked to rate North American leaders on their handling of the Middle East crises, both and Prime Minister Harper and President Obama earned 58 on a 100-point scale. “The objectives of the war on Iraq are being achieved by the people themselves in the area,” said one exec. Another added: “The role of the U.S. and other western countries is to suppress the military oppression of the people and allow the revolutions to run their course.”