Study calls for regional trade organisations in Middle East

JEDDAH — A study by the Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU) has called upon the Arab countries to step up their efforts to establish regional trade organisations.

By Habib Shaikh

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Published: Mon 12 Feb 2007, 9:22 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:54 PM

The study, prepared by Adel Khalil, an economic expert at the CAEU, said the regional trade organisations could be established with increased coordination and cooperation between the Arab countries on the one hand and by their active participation in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the other. The study also stressed the need for expanding the membership base in the common market for Arabs.

Another immediate requirement for the implementation of the common market was the mechanism to compensate for the losses the countries and sectors might have suffered by the emergence of the free trade zone, Arab Monetary Fund and the common market.

The study said that the volume of mutual trade among the Arab countries could be enhanced by making use of the special status they recognise among themselves. They could also focus on manufacturing commodities that are in high demand in their area. It added that they should also give special stress on developing roads, telecommunication, electric power, and water supply besides promoting the private sector investments.

The study demanded that the various Arab trade federations should strive for change and progress in the region by providing the necessary database, simplified process of technology transfer to less advanced countries. They should also take steps to develop human resources and establish research centres.

The study identified various obstacles in the way of establishing the Arab free trade zone. One of them is the lack of genuine efforts on the part of the Arab countries to complete the formalities required for their accession to the WTO. Their accession to the WTO would simplify the formation of the Arab common market and free trade zone because the membership of the WTO insists on unified regulations in the matter of commodities and services, intellectual property rights and commercial ethics.

"It would prompt the Arab countries to increase their bilateral trade. Fulfilment of the conditions laid down for the WTO accession would, undoubtedly, simplify the Arab efforts to form their own common market and other trade organisations," the CAEU study said.

The study also emphasised the supporting role to be taken by the current Arab members of the WTO.

"They should offer the necessary technical assistance to other Arab countries aspiring to be members in the international organisation," it said and pointed out the importance of the Arab member countries of the WTO to make coordinated demands from the advanced countries to open up their markets for the exports of the Arab countries.

"The advanced countries should abandon their practice of adopting protective measures and market flooding against the developing countries," it suggested.

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