Assessing Arab Economic Integration Report

Towards the Arab Customs Union

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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.



Arab economic integration in the context of an evolving and dynamic world

The push for global and regional economic integration is an old concept that has seen renewed emphasis in recent years, particularly regarding regional and subregional integration, with regional integration agreements (RIAs) becoming a ubiquitous feature of global economic frameworks. RIAs often take the form of FTAs that grant each member preferential access to the markets of other participants. These agreements are also recognized as a vehicle for achieving deeper forms of economic integration, requiring a higher level of policy coordination that is more feasible regionally than globally (Lawrence, 1996). While ultimately very beneficial, the process of economic integration is likely to be long and rife with difficulties, as the prominent example of the European integration experience illustrates. Strong political will is of vital importance to overcome initial challenges in the economic integration process and future hurdles that are likely to determine the viability of integration efforts.


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