Arab Integration

Arab Integration

A 21st Century Development Imperative You do not have access to this content

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Author(s):
UN
04 Sep 2014
Pages:
323
ISBN:
9789210565233 (PDF)
http://dx.doi.org/10.18356/6a8d587b-en

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This report aims to revive the project of Arab integration conferring new dimensions to the concept of integration to include all aspects of the social structure or the elements of human civilization. It also calls for expanding economic integration beyond the narrow scope of trade liberalization to laying out the foundations for production and diversification, and building knowledge-based economies through cooperation in the development of integrated human, technological and productive capacities in the Arab region. Using the best available scientific methods, this report presents standard quantitative estimates of the consequences of keeping current modalities of integration, which are limited to trade liberalization and the establishment of an Arab customs union. Simulations of proposed scenarios for strengthening economic integration were also made and the results compared with the estimated consequences of the status quo.
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  • Report team
    This report is the result of combined efforts in research, analysis and review led by Rima Khalaf, Executive Secretary of ESCWA. An advisory board of Arab thinkers contributed to setting its methodological framework and enriched its material with their valuable inputs. Arab experts participated in drafting the report, and ESCWA staff assisted in providing substantive research, statistics and economic models, as well as in the coordination and support.
  • Foreword
    There is general agreement that the current state of the Arab world warrants serious concern. Observers concur that the Arab countries appear to be at a development impasse, evidenced by persisting knowledge gaps, fragile economies and the prevalence of human injustice. But when it comes to the reasons for the status quo, or what it will take to change it, agreement gives way to heated debate.
  • Overview
    Arab integration is not a new idea. It has been adopted as an official goal, attempted and abandoned at different times since the 1950s. Some types of integration succeeded while many others did not, the casualties of wavering political will and unclear plans.
  • Arab integration: Concept, pathways and prospects
    Economic integration centers on material structures of life, such as economic systems, goods and capital; comprehensive integration encompasses both material and moral structures, such as culture, knowledge and values. The Arab world needs to evolve towards this larger integration, building on traditional economic integration and moving beyond it. Only comprehensive integration can bring about the thoroughgoing renaissance that the region urgently needs.
  • Arab economic integration
    Economic integration underpins comprehensive integration by providing for its material needs. Arab economic integration often features in official discourse. It has been the aspiration of millions and the target of ambitious projects since the 1950s. Post-independence Arab States quickly began to conclude economic integration agreements, motivated by regional political and security-related concerns and by considerations of international trade and finance. The ensuing years were filled with sweeping regional concords and a succession of broken promises.
  • Arab political and sectoral integration
    The twentieth century saw numerous attempts at unification among Arab States. Some took the form of mergers or unions between two or more Arab countries. Others sought to establish subregional blocs aimed at close cooperation in various sectors. Some experiments succeeded, indicating the scope for integration on a broader scale. Many others foundered on internal and external obstacles that undermined their prospects. In the absence of fertile ground, these experiments in Arab unity did not survive long enough to show their real potential.
  • Arab integration: The causes of failure
    The Arab countries have made several ambitious attempts at unity at different times in history. But these efforts were not sustained and rarely capitalized on the unique characteristics of the region or its abundant resources; more recent attempts have therefore failed to forge a united regional bloc capable of withstanding shocks, creating opportunities and meeting modern challenges. This experience contrasts sharply with that of other regions which have successfully integrated into such blocs.
  • Arab cultural integration
    The Arab countries have made several ambitious attempts at unity at different times in history. But these efforts were not sustained and rarely capitalized on the unique characteristics of the region or its abundant resources; more recent attempts have therefore failed to forge a united regional bloc capable of withstanding shocks, creating opportunities and meeting modern challenges. This experience contrasts sharply with that of other regions which have successfully integrated into such blocs.
  • Arab popular integration in the political and civil space
    Arabs have always found ways to reach out directly to their fellow citizens in other countries, despite official obstacles. People-to-people contact and exchange across national borders is an everyday occurrence in the region.
  • A Legacy of fragmentation and development failures
    Decades of fragmentation and division in the Arab world have created major threats and challenges to its development and progress. Some challenges are political or humanitarian; they concern national freedoms, regional security and refugee populations; others stem from flawed or failed national development policies. Still other threats are environmental, undermining both present-day and intergenerational equity. There are also polarizing cultural challenges that shape the individual and collective consciousness; drag society into conflicts; and limit the potenti for human awakening
  • Arab economic integration: Reaping benefits for all
    Since the 1950s, various policies and arrangements have been adopted to improve Arab economic integration, with mixed economic and social results across the region. Results fell below expectations owing to shortcomings in the policies themselves or their implementation. This chapter looks first at the possible consequences of maintaining current integration policies, which focus exclusively on the liberalization of trade in goods through the elimination of customs tariffs. This neglects, other more important obstacles such as technical and non-tariff barriers and high transport costs. The chapter next examines the possible benefits of not limiting economic integration to the liberalization of trade in goods, emphasizing the importance of removing tariff restrictions on Arab intraregional trade towards a more comprehensive system encompassing labour markets, capital and production sectors in addition to goods and services. It then compares the impact of each option on a set of basic economic indicators.
  • Arab integration and renaissance: A strategic Vision
    The previous chapter showed that the Arab countries can reap important benefits by taking gradual and successive steps towards comprehensive economic integration. Other chapters explored realities and hopes, failures and possibilities in the long search for Arab unity. This concluding chapter is a reflection on the close relationship between comprehensive integration and the well-being of the Arab people. It offers a strategic plan for reviving the material and moral foundations of the region through integration. A series of realistic, simple and important steps are set out leading towards this more ambitious goal. The chapter concludes by outlining strategic actions that would lead to the establishment of a free Arab citizenship area characterized by prosperity, social justice and human dignity.
  • Endnotes
  • Bibliography
  • Annexes
  • Statistical Tables
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