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Assessing Arab Economic Integration Report

Towards the Arab Customs Union

image of Assessing Arab Economic Integration Report

The goal of this first edition of the Assessing Arab Economic Integration Report is to provide a quantitative assessment of regional economic integration efforts, and generate practical and implementable policy advice for Member States. Following a concise review of the potential impact and channels of economic integration, a system of indexes has been developed for performance evaluation, monitoring and comparison of integration at the global, regional, and bilateral levels. This report shows that Arab countries’ abilities to unlock the potential for further intra-regional integration rely partly on their capacity to address a number of cross cutting structural features that act as facilitators and condition their performances. It makes a clear argument that economic integration is a means by which Arab countries can ensure their growth and diversification, thus bringing both individual country-level and communal regional-level benefits.

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Introduction

Located on the trading routes of three continents, the Arab region is home to some 350 million people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.84 billion and a per-capita GDP close to $8,100. Arab countries share a common language, borders and similar social norms, which should facilitate regional integration. At a time when the global economic landscape is changing rapidly, with shifting wealth and increased interconnectedness through trade, investment and capital movement, the Arab region faces the imperatives of economic reform and adaptation. Fostering regional economic integration is a strategic response to these forces, and a foundation on which Arab countries can build their reform and development plans.

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