Writing for the Financial Times, Nasser Saidi, an expert speaker on Middle Eastern economies, believes that it is time to break down barriers to intra-Arab trade.
Nasser contends that “like Arab unity, the ambition of boosting intra-Arab trade has been a litany of bright promises but dismal performance.” He argues that regional trade agreements are in place, but enforcement is lacking and benefits are not visible. Significant obstacles include the region’s high non-tariff barriers, such as technical and health standards, along with pervasive red tape, which discriminates against both international and regional trade.
But what should be done? Nasser puts forward 3 ideas:
- Arab countries should invest heavily in trade-related infrastructure and trade facilitation.
- The Gulf Co-operation Council should invite the Arab countries in transition to join its free trade area, either as full members or through economic association agreements that would promote trade, investment and labour mobility.
- Arab countries should pivot east and develop their bilateral and multilateral relations with Asia and China.
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