Information about Western Hemisphere Hemisferio Occidental
Chapter

4 Policy Implications of the Uruguay Round for Arab Countries

Editor(s):
Saíd El-Naggar
Published Date:
June 1996
Share
  • ShareShare
Information about Western Hemisphere Hemisferio Occidental
Show Summary Details
Author(s)
Jamal Zarrouk*

The conclusion of the Uruguay Round negotiations on December 15, 1993 marked a significant event for developing countries, including Arab countries. First, negotiations resulted in firm commitments made by as many as 124 nation participants from both developing and industrial countries to reduce tariffs and nontariff measures substantially, and to reduce both nontariff support in agriculture and barriers to trade in services. These trade-liberalizing measures will improve access to developed markets, which is important for countries that have implemented macroeconomic and structural policy reforms aimed to increase efficient resource allocation.

Second, the Uruguay Round increased the rules-based security of access to world markets through strengthened and expanded disciplines, procedures, and institutions within the multilateral trading system. Such systemic improvements that protect the weak and restrain the powerful should benefit small developing countries, including Arab countries.

Indeed, many Arab countries, along with many other developing nations, have become full participants in the GATT in order both to reflect changes toward greater market orientation of their economies and to support the systemic improvements made by the Uruguay Round. To date, eight Arab country members of the Arab Monetary Fund (Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates) signed the Final Act of the Uruguay Round and will be founding members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which will replace the GATT of 1947. In addition, four other member countries (Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan) are in the process of joining the GATT/WTO, and two members (Oman and Palestine) are considering applying for accession in the future.

Third, estimates of the quantifiable economic effects of the tariff reductions and other liberalizing measures that were negotiated suggest that the gains in world income by the year 2005, the year when the Uruguay Round agreements will be fully implemented, will approximate $510 billion a year in 1990 U.S. dollars (GATT, 1994b). The volume of world trade in goods is expected to be 9 to 24 percent above what it would have been without the round. Since these gains go to both developing and industrial countries, Arab economies will also benefit from the growth and income-generation effects of the round.

Although there are benefits to be derived from the market liberalization, there is widespread recognition that Arab countries will face two potentially adverse effects. First, there will be a possible loss of trade-preferential treatment of Arab countries’ exports to industrial country markets, especially to the European Union, as a result of the post-Uruguay Round tariff reductions. The other concern is about the negative impact of possible food price hikes, as a result of reductions in nontariff support to agriculture in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, on the payments position of Arab net food-importing countries.

Given the need of Arab countries for both minimizing the negative impacts and exploiting the new opportunities in the international trading environment, as a result of the Uruguay Round, the purpose of this chapter is to address policy implications for Arab countries and to provide policy recommendations that help them in their adjustment efforts during the phasing period of reforms.

This chapter considers broad trade issues relevant to Arab countries as future members of the WTO. Nonmembers of the GATT/WTO are under no legal obligation to implement the results of the Uruguay Round. Nevertheless, the implications of being a nonmember of the WTO can be much more costly in terms of the relative insecurity of unilateral and discriminatory policies by trading partners. Such costs have to be weighed against the potential benefits from the multilateral commitments under the GATT/WTO, which will guard against restrictive measures being introduced arbitrarily to impede trade and investment.

The analysis begins with a brief review of the Uruguay Round results and presents an overall assessment of the round. This review serves as a background against which salient features of Arab countries’ trade structure and trade-related policies, which are likely to be affected by the new international trading environment, are examined. The chapter concludes with recommendations for policy reforms in a country context and within the region, and with a summary of main findings.

Highlights of the Uruguay Round Results: Summary and Assessment

The Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations resulted in comprehensive and complex agreements on goods, services, intellectual property, investment, and a unified dispute settlement system. All the round’s agreements will be administered by the newly created WTO. Membership in the WTO is synonymous with membership in all its multilateral agreements. The following summary sets the background against which to assess implications of the round for Arab economies.

Market Access for Goods

Market access relates to the issues of tariff and nontariff liberalization, including tariff bindings.1 In the area of tariffs, industrial countries made firm commitments to reduce their tariffs on industrial goods (excluding petroleum) from an average rate of 6.3 percent to 3.8 percent, enabling an overall reduction in tariff protection of 40 percent (GATT, 1994b).

As far as the tariff structure is concerned, the application of tariff peaks (defined as ad valorem tariffs above 15 percent) on imports into industrial country markets from developing countries will be reduced from 9 to 5 percent, and the proportion of duty-free imports into the developed markets will more than double. The increase in duty-free treatment covers product groups such as metals, mineral products, wood, pulp, paper, furniture, chemicals, and photographic supplies, many of which are of export interest to some Arab countries.

Another important tariff-related instrument that contributes to the predictability of market access has been “tariff bindings.” The Uruguay Round negotiations resulted in an increase of the proportion of bound tariff lines from 78 to 99 percent for industrial countries, from 21 to 73 percent for developing economies, and from 73 to 98 percent for transition economies. Arab country participants have also made important commitments in tariff bindings, as explained in the next section.

It was stated that the significance of the developing countries’ commitments to increase their tariff bindings lies in the fact that the unilateral trade liberalization measures that they had taken in recent years are being “partially bound” and converted into “contractual commitments” (Hoda, 1994).

In the area of nontariff barriers, there have been commitments by both the developed and developing countries to convert nontariff measures on imports of agricultural products into tariff rate equivalents. As a result of this “tariffication” process, virtually 100 percent of agricultural product tariff lines have been bound. These tariffs will be reduced 21–36 percent in the industrial countries over the six-year implementation period (1995–2000). For developing countries, rates of reduction are lower and gradual over ten years. Least developed countries are exempted from the tariffication commitment in agriculture.

Other significant commitments for phasing out nontariff barriers have been the gradual elimination of quota restrictions on textiles and clothing under the Multifibre Arrangement (MFA) over a period of ten years divided into three stages. Industrial countries are required to integrate 16, 17, and 18 percent of their total imports at the beginning of the three stages. All the sector will be integrated into the GATT at the end of the ten years.

Market Access for Services

Trade in services was brought under the multilateral rules and disciplines of GATT. The basic principles of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) are2 (1) national treatment (that is, “foreign services and service suppliers should be treated no less favorably than nationals”); (2) most-favored-nation (MFN) treatment (that is, “there should be no discrimination between other Members of the Agreement in terms of the treatment accorded to their service suppliers”); (3) transparency (that is, “relevant policies, including barriers to market access and discriminatory restrictions, must be published”); and (4) progressive liberalization (that is, binding commitments of market access and national treatment can be modified to increase only the penetration, not to reduce it through future negotiations; nonetheless, commitments can be withdrawn or modified for negotiated compensation to affected trading partners).

Furthermore, the GATS requires that country signatories of the agreement submit a list of national commitments to begin opening market access to foreign service suppliers. Limitations on market access and national treatment are allowed under the condition that they are explicitly listed in the national schedules.

The GATS principle of gradual liberalization for developing countries allows them to grant market access to those sectors in which opening to foreign service suppliers is judged to be compatible with their economic and social development needs. The Uruguay Round results in commitments on services show that the highest level of commitments is made in tourism and travel services and in financial services. Arab countries’ commitments on services are summarized in the next section.

Strengthened Disciplines

The Uruguay Round addressed several enforcement measures to secure trade liberalization. First, it clarifies and strengthens the rules with respect to a number of trade policy instruments (notably safeguards, and subsidies and countervailing measures). Second, it extends the GATT disciplines to the new areas of intellectual property and investment.

As regards the first set of disciplines, the new Agreement on Safeguards explicitly bans the use of “gray area” measures3 and calls for dismantling bilateral quantitative restrictions, especially voluntary export restraints (VERs) in product groups that are usually targeted by industrial countries (for example, footwear and electronics).

The Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures restores discipline for subsidy schemes that a government will or will not phase out or install in support of national industries. This agreement also establishes a linkage between subsidies and countervailing that helps to identify subsidies that can or cannot be subject to countervailing duties. The agreement delineates three categories of industry subsidies: prohibited, actionable, and nonactionable. Prohibited are export subsidies tied to export performance or incentives to use domestic rather than imported inputs in the production of the exported product. Actionable subsidies are those that cause adverse effects (for example, injury or serious prejudice) to an industry in another country. Nonactionable subsidies consist of two groups: specific subsidies limited to certain enterprises, and subsidies for research and development activities, regional aid, and help for disadvantaged regions or for adapting to new environmental regulations.

Furthermore, the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures requires that developing countries with an annual GNP per capita of $1,000 or over phase out their export subsidies within a transitional period of eight years (with possible extension of two more years) and subsidies tied to using domestic input within five years. Least developed countries and certain other specified countries,4 until such time as their annual GNP per capita reaches $1,000, are exempt from dismantling their export subsidies, but they have eight years to phase out subsidies tied to using domestic input for the production of exported products. Developed countries must dismantle export subsidies immediately, after the date of entry into force of the agreement.

As regards the second set of disciplines, the new Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) provides national treatment5 and limits the use of quantitative restrictions on foreign investment by host countries. The TRIMs agreement states that measures such as local content requirements and “trade balancing” (that is, restricting the use of imports according to the amount of output exported) are inconsistent with national treatment and must be published and eliminated within two years for developed countries, five years for developing countries, and seven years for least developed countries.

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) introduces the MFN principle to treat nationals of trading partners indiscriminately, and to provide for national treatment in the protection of intellectual property rights. Some specific intellectual property rights include copyright and related rights, rental rights, patentability, layout designs, and company secrets. Furthermore, national governments have been provided with procedures and remedies for enforcement of intellectual property rights.

Institutional Improvements

The creation of the WTO will enable the new multilateral trading system to operate as a single undertaking (that is, all texts and amendments have to be adopted by all members of the WTO). The integration of all the dispute settlement procedures covered in the individual agreements (for goods, services, and TRIPs) into a single system operating under a Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) will reduce the practice of choosing between the alternative dispute settlement procedures of individual agreements, and will restrain countries to comply with a single set of rulings.

Overall Assessment of the Uruguay Round

Potential Benefits

The Uruguay Round agreements when fully implemented are expected to improve economic efficiency and welfare from the global, national, and sectoral standpoints. Economic welfare improvement for developing countries is likely to derive from (1) greater competitiveness in both exports and domestic markets, (2) greater transparency, and (3) a higher level of market integration in goods, services, and investment.

First, greater competitiveness in world markets stems from improved access to industrial country markets, which is likely to induce growth of developing countries’ exports in the industrial sectors where they have a comparative advantage. This benefit will in turn cause reallocation of resources in developing countries, leading to improved economic efficiency and welfare.

As regards the achievement of greater transparency of policy, this is expected to derive from the enhanced disciplines and procedures in the multilateral trading system. Country signatories will have to ensure that domestic legislation or procedures are GATT consistent. Furthermore, both regular monitoring of the evolution of trade policies of individual countries through the established Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) and the availability of an integrated dispute settlement system to address and settle possible disputes will place trade and competition policies under scrutiny and should be vital in maintaining pressure for trade liberalization.

Finally, a higher level of integration in world markets is achieved through incorporation of traditional sectors such as agriculture and textiles and clothing, as well as “new” sectors of services, intellectual property rights, and investment within the multilateral trading system. This should enhance the predictability of the multilateral trading system, which in turn is likely to stimulate the process of globalization of business and attract investment in areas of comparative advantage.

Potential Losses and Shortcomings

At the same time, the Uruguay Round results are expected to lead to losses with respect to the trading interests pursued by many developing countries. First, as regards the market access results, the generalized trade liberalization is seen as having negative effects for African and Caribbean countries that rely on preferences for their market access to industrial countries. The post-Uruguay Round tariff and nontariff reductions will reduce the preference margins of developing country beneficiaries of such schemes as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the respective preferences in the Lomé Convention or the European Union’s Mediterranean Agreements.

Second, possible increases in food prices as a result of reduced subsidies in agriculture will increase the imports of developing countries heavily dependent on food imports, causing a deterioration in their terms of trade. The general view is that such an impact is likely to be determined by the rise in food prices after the implementation of agricultural liberalization—and by many other world developments, including the natural conditions that may cause seasonal food price instability.

Third, the complexity and extent of the Uruguay Round results will pressure developing country participants to put into place an administrative capacity and trade management infrastructure in order to maximize benefits from the round. Nevertheless, many developing countries lack such administrative capacity and face financial and budgetary constraints. There is a concern that if these countries do not obtain adequate assistance to implement their undertakings in trade liberalization and internal market reforms within the prescribed implementation periods, the ability of developing countries to be more active members of the multilateral trading system sharing in the gains may fade away.

Finally, a shortcoming of the round was the exclusion of hydrocarbons from the tariff-binding process, a key element in the security of market access. This has been considered, from the perspective of major oil producing Arab countries, a weak element in the round. Since many of these countries draw the bulk of their foreign exchange earnings from oil exports, they may find that the round’s results offer little benefit with respect to market access. One may argue that crude petroleum6 faces few trade barriers in industrial country markets, but refined petroleum still faces tariff escalation and nontariff measures in Japan and the United States.

Assessing the Effects of the Uruguay Round Results on Arab Economies

As the preceding discussion suggests, the impact of the Uruguay Round results on developing economies depends both on the post-Uruguay Round market access conditions facing these countries and on the pace of integration of these countries in the multilateral trading system. First, the new market structure that will emerge after the implementation of the results is expected to lead to static gains stemming from trade creation that will take place following tariff reductions and removal of nontariff measures, on the one hand, and to static losses from trade diversion as a result of an erosion of preferential treatment in developed country markets, on the other.

Second, full integration in the multilateral trading system, which is associated both with countries’ own trade liberalization and with their active participation in the GATT/WTO, is likely to generate longer-term dynamic gains. Unilateral trade liberalization enables countries to develop competitive factor markets consistent with their comparative advantage, in order to exploit the new trade opportunities resulting from the multilateral trade liberalization. Membership in the GATT/WTO is a key policy instrument to secure reciprocal trade liberalization and, most of all, the abilities of countries to operate in each other’s markets. This is achieved through the agreement of participants in the Uruguay Round to binding commitments that are applied on a nondiscriminatory basis in accordance with the MFN principle. Also, strong multilateral rules within the WTO promote the predictability of policy and the ability to control domestic pressures for protection.

Trade Structure, Trade-Related Policies, and Post-Uruguay Round Market Access Conditions

The new market structure following implementation of the Uruguay Round is likely to affect significantly Arab industrial exports and food imports as well as trade policy instruments for access to developed markets.

Industrial Exports

Despite the relative success of several Arab countries in diversifying their production and export structures, the overall trend shows that Arab countries’ merchandise exports are still highly concentrated. These countries account for 4 percent of world exports of merchandise, of which three quarters still is made up of crude petroleum and other mining products. Nevertheless, the general trend overshadows significant differences among Arab countries with respect to the importance of petroleum in total exports. Also, although the share of petroleum exports in total exports has been decreasing, the share of industrial product exports has steadily increased. In the category of industrial products, chemicals and textiles and clothing occupy the largest shares (Table 1).

Table 1.Arab Countries’ Exports of Merchandise by Major Product Group(In percent; based on value data)
Share in Total Arab ExportsShare in World Exports, 1992
198119851992
Agricultural products2.54.44.81.4
Mining products94.086.673.922.5
Petroleum89.082.362.518.9
Manufactures3.59.118.71.0
Chemicals0.52.54.11.4
Textiles and clothing3.21.7
Total1001001003.98
Sources: Arab Monetary Fund, and others (1994); and other national data. Shares of total exports in each of listed product groups.
Sources: Arab Monetary Fund, and others (1994); and other national data. Shares of total exports in each of listed product groups.

Furthermore, the direction of merchandise exports of industrial and agricultural products by major importing markets shows that more than 50 percent of Arab exports of agricultural products, and 53 percent of manufactures, is destined for the industrial countries, whereas the remainder is traded with other developing economies (including intra-Arab exports). Within the industrial markets, Western Europe has been the largest market for both exports of agricultural products and manufactures, followed by North America and Asia (including Japan) for Arab exports of manufactures, especially chemicals (Figure 1).

Figure 1.Non-Oil Merchandise Exports of Arab Countries by Main Destination and Product Group, 1992

(In percent)

As regards the pattern of Arab exports with developing countries, subdivided into regional markets, roughly 31 percent of Arab exports of agricultural products and 19 percent of Arab exports of manufactures are destined for intra-Arab trade. Figures for trade with other developing areas show that developing Asian markets account for approximately 7 percent of Arab exports of agriculture products, and 15 percent of manufactures. In contrast, Latin America and Africa are negligible markets for Arab exports.

Since the main direction of exports has been and still is the industrial country markets, the post-Uruguay Round results with respect to increases in access to developed markets would be, in general, of interest to Arab countries. For instance, the post-Uruguay Round tariff reductions, as reported by the GATT Secretariat, show tariff cuts concerning a wide range of industrial product groups of immediate export interest to several Arab countries (Table 2). The largest tariff reductions have been made for metals, a product group of export interest to Bahrain, Egypt, Mauritania, and the United Arab Emirates. The product group that saw the least tariff reductions has been textiles and clothing. Nevertheless, this sector will further benefit from the phasing out of the quota restrictions imposed under the MFA.

Table 2.Industrial Country Tariff Reductions on Industrial Products of High Export Interest to Arab Countries1
Tariff Average Weighted by Import from Developing Economies Before and After the Uruguay RoundCountries with a Current High Export Interest in the Product
Product GroupBeforeAfterPercent reduction
Textiles and clothing14.611.323Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia
Metals2.70.967Egypt, Mauritania, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates
Mineral products Precious metals and stones2.60.869Algeria, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates
Fish and fish products6.64.827Mauritania
Chemicals and photographic supplies7.23.847Qatar
Source: GATT (1994b).

A product group is defined by the GATT Secretariat as being of current “high” export interest if it accounts for 20 percent or more of foreign exchange earnings from exports of industrial products (excluding petroleum) or agricultural products, respectively; and if it accounts for 5 percent or more of total merchandise exports (excluding petroleum). OECD countries’ imports from Arab countries for 1988 are used as a proxy for the exports of individual countries.

Source: GATT (1994b).

A product group is defined by the GATT Secretariat as being of current “high” export interest if it accounts for 20 percent or more of foreign exchange earnings from exports of industrial products (excluding petroleum) or agricultural products, respectively; and if it accounts for 5 percent or more of total merchandise exports (excluding petroleum). OECD countries’ imports from Arab countries for 1988 are used as a proxy for the exports of individual countries.

In the case of major Arab country exporters of textiles and clothing (Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco), since they have duty-free access to their main European Union markets, the post-Uruguay Round tariff reductions will lower their preference margins. The loss of preferential treatment is expected to increase competition from other developing country nonbeneficiaries of duty-free treatment in the European Union markets. Therefore, major Arab country exporters are expected to lose market opportunities in the more competitive European Union markets.

Food Imports

An evident trend in Arab imports is the important share of food imports, indicating long-term shortfalls in self-sufficiency in Arab countries in this respect. The self-sufficiency ratio, varying according to product, is lowest for wheat, sugar, oilseeds, vegetable oil, and dairy products (Table 3).

Table 3.Ratios of Self-Sufficiency for Selected Foodstuffs in the Arab Countries
Average Production (in thousands of tons)Net Imports (in thousands of tons)Total Demand (in thousands of tons)Self-Suficiencty1

Ratio
Average Annual Growth 1980–92 (in percent)
Domestic productionNet importsTotal demand
Products1980–851986–921980–851986–921980–851986–921980–851986–92
Grains26,75036,74032,44525,72459,19563,46445582.7−1.60.6
Wheat9,80016,40014,97313,27024,77329,67040554.4−1.01.5
Barley5,2306,8104,5622,2049,7929,01453762.2−5.9−0.7
Refined sugar1,2902,0404,2913,3565,6815,39622383.9−2.0−0.4
Coarse grains1,2251,3603015781,5261,93880700.95.62.1
Vegetables16,71022,64020039116,91023,03199982.65.72.6
Fruits14,30021,470−1638214,13721,5521011003.4−5.63.6
Oilseeds/vegetable oil1,2201,5001,9342,4153,1543,91539381.71.91.8
Meat3,0553,7401,1258484,1754,58873821.7−2.30.8
Dairy products12,64013,76011,1368,34423,77622,10453620.7−2.4−0.6
Eggs6909401173780797786962.6−9.11.6
Source: Arab Monetary Fund, and others (1994).

Self-sufficiency is measured by taking the ratio of domestic production to domestic demand in terms of volume.

Source: Arab Monetary Fund, and others (1994).

Self-sufficiency is measured by taking the ratio of domestic production to domestic demand in terms of volume.

The post-Uruguay Round reductions in agricultural protection in OECD countries, as required by the Agreement on Agriculture, is expected to lead to increases in food prices (Goldin, Knudsen, and van der Mensbrugghe, 1993). Arab countries, being in general net food importers, may therefore face increased expenditures. The reductions of protection concern heavily subsidized products on world food markets, such as wheat, dairy products, and sugar, in which Arab countries have the lowest self-sufficiency. The price impact will be felt by virtually all Arab countries.

Access to Industrial Country Markets

Arab countries’ exports receive various preferential treatments in entering industrial markets. For instance, the European Union extends cooperation agreements, on a bilateral basis, to the Maghreb and Mashreq countries.7 In addition, the European Union and Japan extend the GSP to virtually all Arab countries.

Because the post-Uruguay Round tariff reductions are likely to lead to an erosion of trade preferences for developing countries, it is important to outline the overall context in which the main trade preference schemes granted to Arab countries have evolved.

As regards the European Union agreements concluded with the Maghreb and Mashreq countries, although slight variations in the terms and coverage of these agreements may exist, it is possible to highlight some common features. First, the preferential treatment extended by the European Union consists of duty-free market access for most raw materials and industrial products. Exports of specified agricultural product groups into the European Union receive tariff reductions ranging from 20 to 100 percent (for example, live animals, meat, fish, vegetables, and citrus fruits). For other exports of agricultural products (especially cotton, olive oil, fresh lemon, and wine), the European Union applies seasonal quotas and tariff quotas.8

Second, the Maghreb and Mashreq countries have not been required in the past to give reciprocal concessions to the European Union, since the bilateral agreements continue to incorporate a strong element of economic assistance.

Third, and more recent, following the adopted general steps toward the liberalization of their trade and current payments, Morocco and Tunisia have been negotiating with the European Union for a full free-trade agreement (GATT, 1994a). This prospective agreement, which would lead to a complete elimination of import duties on both sides of the Mediterranean, would be fully implemented within a 15-year transitional period. Also, this formulation of an active free-trade area, reciprocal in nature, may be extended to the Mashreq countries as part of a new European Union policy aimed at creating a Euro-Mediterranean Economic Area that could embrace 40 countries and a market of 500 million people (see The Financial Times, October 20, 1994).

As regards the relations of Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC) countries with the European Union, most GCC exports are subject to MFN rates of duty, except for specified products (some petrochemical products, and raw materials) that are granted GSP treatment in European Union markets. Also, the European Union and the GCC countries are currently negotiating the establishment of a full free-trade area. Nevertheless, the European Union has stressed that this free-trade area cannot be successfully concluded until the GCC completes the formation of its own customs union.

Mauritania, Somalia, and Sudan have been beneficiaries of GSP treatment from Japan and the United States and also beneficiaries of preferential treatment from the European Union under the Lomé Convention.

The post-Uruguay Round generalized trade liberalization is likely to lead to lost market opportunities for Arab country beneficiaries of the respective preferences in the Lomé Convention or the Maghreb-Mashreq Agreements. The extent of lost market opportunities depends on the preference margins as well as the coverage of products that are qualified for the preferences. In view of the extension of preferences to the Maghreb countries, these are likely to lose market opportunities more significantly in the intermediate term. Even in the case that Morocco and Tunisia conclude a free-trade area with the European Union, this development may not alter the likely loss, because of the longer period of phasing out of trade barriers within the negotiated free-trade area with the European Union.

Participation of Arab Countries in the Multilateral Trading System: The GATT

A key determinant in enabling Arab countries to take advantage of the strengthened, rules-based international trading system is the extent of their participation and undertakings in the multilateral negotiations process.

By January 1995, eight Arab country Contracting Parties to the GATT had signed the Final Act of the Uruguay Round to become founding members of the WTO (Table 4). In addition, four countries are in the process of accession to GATT/WTO, and working parties have been established. While considering different times of membership and different conditions of membership, the significance of GATT membership in terms of acceptance of full obligations has grown along with the pursuance of more market-based and outward-oriented development strategies. For example, the unilateral liberalization of their external trade and payments regimes undertaken by Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia within comprehensive structural and macroeconomic policy reforms has enabled these countries to seek active participation in the GATT and the Uruguay Round process. As regards members of the GCC, Kuwait was first to join the GATT. Other GCC members (Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), although they have enjoyed open trade regimes, have sought accession to GATT more recently. A main reason that kept them from joining the GATT was that hydrocarbons were not, and still are not, explicitly bound by GATT rules. Nevertheless, as these countries have attempted to diversify their exports into petrochemical and metal products, enthusiasm to join the GATT has grown in parallel fashion, especially because these product groups will experience reductions in the post-Uruguay Round tariffs applied in industrial countries.

Table 4.Commitments on Market Access for Goods by Arab Countries in the Uruguay Round
CountryAccession to GATTSignatories to Final Act of the Uruguay Round (April 15, 1994)Agricultural ProductsIndustrial Products
Bahrain1993YesBound tariffsBound tariffs
Egypt1970YesBound tariffs, tarifficationTariff reductions, bound tariffs, nontariff concessions
Kuwait1963YesBound tariffsBound tariffs
Mauritania1963YesBound tariffsBound tariffs
Morocco1987YesBound tariffs, triffication,1

AMS reductions2
Bound tariffs
Qatar31994Yes
Tunisia1990YesBound tariffs, tariffication, AMS reductions2Bound tariffs
United Arab Emirates1994YesBound tariffsBound tariffs
Countries in the process of accession to GATT/WTO4
AlgeriaYes
JordanNo
Saudi ArabiaNo
SudanNo
Sources: Compiled from various GATT publications, including GATT (1994c) and (1994d).

"Tariffication" means replacement of the nontariff measure by a tariff equivalent—that is, a customs duty as a border protection measure.

The AMS (aggregate measurement of support) is referred to in the Agreement on Agriculture of the Uruguay Round.

Qatar’s lists of commitments were not available in the agreements.

Working parties for accession to the GATT/WTO were established for Algeria in March 1987, for Jordan in January 1994, for Saudi Arabia in July 1993, and for Sudan in September 1994.

Sources: Compiled from various GATT publications, including GATT (1994c) and (1994d).

"Tariffication" means replacement of the nontariff measure by a tariff equivalent—that is, a customs duty as a border protection measure.

The AMS (aggregate measurement of support) is referred to in the Agreement on Agriculture of the Uruguay Round.

Qatar’s lists of commitments were not available in the agreements.

Working parties for accession to the GATT/WTO were established for Algeria in March 1987, for Jordan in January 1994, for Saudi Arabia in July 1993, and for Sudan in September 1994.

Participation of Arab Countries in the Multilateral Trading System: The Uruguay Round

To acquire rights and benefits from the results of the Uruguay Round, Arab country participants had agreed on national schedules of commitments that reflect in general both the level of their economic development and changes toward the greater outward orientation of their economies. According to the national schedules of Arab countries’ offers in the Uruguay Round, commitments to open domestic markets, as summarized in Tables 4, 5, and 6, generally comprise tariff bindings for agricultural as well as industrial products, tariffication of nontariff barriers in agriculture, and reductions of domestic support to agricultural producers. In addition, there are binding commitments to begin opening market access to trade in services.

Table 5.Scope of Tariff Bindings by Arab Countries Before and After the Uruguay Round(In percent of total tariff lines in country’s tariff schedule; harmonized system (HS) basis)
Agricultural Products1Industrial Products2Total
(share in total)(share in total)(share in total)
CountryBeforeAfterBeforeAfterBeforeAfter
Bahrain1007075
Egypt33100380397
Kuwait1009598
Mauritania1006570
Morocco1009598
Qatar4
Tunisia51010016451553
United Arab Emirates1009598
Memorandum6
Developing countries1710021722073
Industrial countries5810078997899
Transition economies5710073987398
Sources: Compiled from country lists of tariff schedules in the Final Act of the Uruguay Round (GATT/WTO, 1994).

The product coverage comprises the products defined in the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture (HS, chapters 1–24, excluding fish and fish products).

The product coverage is as defined in the U.R. (HS, chapters 25–97, including fish and fish products, and excluding crude petroleum).

Egypt’ s pre-Uruguay Round rates of bindings are from GATT (1992).

The list of Qatar’s concessions were not included in the Final Act of the Uruguay Round (April 15, 1994).

Tunisia’ s pre-Uruguay Round bindings are from GATT (1994a).

GATT, “News of the Uruguay Round,” Marrakesh, April 1994.

Sources: Compiled from country lists of tariff schedules in the Final Act of the Uruguay Round (GATT/WTO, 1994).

The product coverage comprises the products defined in the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture (HS, chapters 1–24, excluding fish and fish products).

The product coverage is as defined in the U.R. (HS, chapters 25–97, including fish and fish products, and excluding crude petroleum).

Egypt’ s pre-Uruguay Round rates of bindings are from GATT (1992).

The list of Qatar’s concessions were not included in the Final Act of the Uruguay Round (April 15, 1994).

Tunisia’ s pre-Uruguay Round bindings are from GATT (1994a).

GATT, “News of the Uruguay Round,” Marrakesh, April 1994.

Table 6.Bound Tariffs (Upper Ceiling) on Industrial and Agricultural Products by Arab Countries Before and After the Uruguay Round1
Bound Tariff Rates After Uruguay Round (in percent ad valorem)Applied Tariff Rates Before Uruguay Round (in percent ad valorem)
CountryIndustryAgricultureIndustryAgriculture
GATT members
Bahrain35352020
Egypt6080100153
Kuwait10010044
Mauritania3075
Morocco402894545
Qatar
Tunisia902007373
United Arab Emirates404044
Non-GATT Arab countries
Jordan150150
Saudi Arabia3020
Memorandum
Industrial countries3.86.8
Sources: Compiled from country’s Uruguay Round tariff schedules (April 15, 1994); actual applied tariffs are from GATT Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) reports for the respective countries; national data were used for the other countries; and data for industrial and developing countries are from GATT (1994b).

The table shows the upper ceiling at which tariffs are to be bound after the implementation of the Uruguay Round, and actual applied (upper ceiling) tariff rates.

Sources: Compiled from country’s Uruguay Round tariff schedules (April 15, 1994); actual applied tariffs are from GATT Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) reports for the respective countries; national data were used for the other countries; and data for industrial and developing countries are from GATT (1994b).

The table shows the upper ceiling at which tariffs are to be bound after the implementation of the Uruguay Round, and actual applied (upper ceiling) tariff rates.

Scope and Coverage of Tariff Bindings by Arab Countries

The increase in bindings of tariffs by Arab country participants in the Uruguay Round is considered to be a key feature of their obligations to ensure predictability and stability of their import duties vis-à-vis other trading partners. Tariff bindings generally take the form of maximum or ceiling rates for the tariffs applied to the products listed in the national schedules. Table 5 shows the scope of bindings—that is, the percentage of tariff lines bound for industrial and agricultural products by Arab country participants.

In the case of industrial products, for instance, the percentage of tariff lines bound by Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates has been between 75 and 98 percent. Mauritania and Tunisia have bound 65 and 45 percent of tariff lines, respectively. As far as the coverage of tariff bindings is concerned, it appears from reading the national schedules of commitments that, for instance, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia have extended concessions to include a number of exported industrial goods in the textile and clothing industry, one of the most important and strategic sectors of their economies, where a uniform bound tariff rate will be applied at 40 percent for Morocco, 60 percent for Egypt, and 90 percent for Tunisia.

Furthermore, another main aspect of Arab countries’ concessions in the Uruguay Round is that the post-Uruguay Round bound tariffs in the national schedules have been established at a level above the currently applied level (see Figures 2 and 3). This was considered very much within the negotiation rules in the Uruguay Round to give flexibility to developing countries for the implementation of domestic reform programs. The binding of tariffs at a higher level than the actually applied level enables developing countries to provide national and newly established industries with protection from foreign competition. This binding process also provides developing countries with the flexibility to create customs unions in the future, as in the case of the Arab Maghreb Union and the GCC.

Figure 2.Uruguay Round Bound Tariffs on Industrial Products

(Percent ad valorem)

Figure 3.Uruguay Round Bound Tariffs on Agricultural Products

(Percent ad valorem)

Source: See Table 6

For agricultural products, all Arab country participants have bound tariff lines virtually at 100 percent, as required by the Uruguay Round agreement. In addition, since nontariff barriers on agricultural products were converted into tariffs, the tariffication resulted in higher protection in agricultural than in industrial products for some Arab countries (for example, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia; Table 6).

Commitments on Domestic Support to Agricultural Products

The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture specifies that industrial countries and WTO members are required to reduce export subsidies by 36 percent below the 1986–90 base-period level over the six-year implementation period, and the quantity of subsidized exports for specified products by 21 percent over the same period. Developing country members are required to reduce export subsidies by only two thirds of the figures required of industrial countries over a period of ten years. Least developed nations are exempt from reductions.

The schedules of commitments in agriculture submitted by Arab country participants show that they do not maintain export subsidies to agriculture. Therefore, they are not scheduled for any reductions.

In addition, the Agreement on Agriculture specifies that domestic support to agriculture (for instance, price support or subsidies extended to inputs) be reduced to a level of 20 percent below the base-period (1986–88) level for industrial countries, and 13 percent below their 1986–88 levels for developing countries. Least developed countries are exempt from these reductions. Accordingly, Morocco and Tunisia, for instance, are committed to phase out in equal installments, by 2005, 13 percent of subsidies extended to inputs, including fertilizer, pesticide, animal feed, seeds, and irrigation water.

Commitments on Services

The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) requires that each member government submit a national schedule of commitments that comprise two sections: first, “horizontal” commitments covering all sectors included in the schedule, such as restrictions on purchase of real estate by foreign investors; second, sector- or subsector-specific commitments applying to particular services or activities.

In assessing commitments made by Arab countries in their national schedules, two key aspects are to be highlighted (Table 7). First, Arab countries in general granted concessions to foreign suppliers of services in those sectors where they possess comparative advantage (for example, tourism and travel activities) and in those where market opening is judged as needed for economic and social development. Accordingly, commitments to open market access to foreign suppliers of services focused on sectors through which Arab countries can acquire technology transfer (for instance, construction and civil engineering, telecommunications, and transport) and also on those sectors through which know-how and efficiency can be gained (for example, financial services and insurance/reinsurance).

Table 7.Extent of Commitments to Open Markets for Trade in Services by Arab Countries
Commitment Within Sector/SubsectorNumber of Service Activities Within Sector/Subsector
BahrainInsurance/reinsurance4
EgyptConstruction and engineering, tourism and travel services, banking, insurance/reinsurance, maritime transport and auxiliary services28
KuwaitBusiness, construction and engineering, environmental services, health-related and social services, tourism and travel, recreational and sporting services44
Mauritania1
MoroccoBusiness, telecommunications, construction and engineering, environmental services, banking, insurance/reinsurance, tourism and travel services, air and road transportation41
Qatar2
TunisiaBanking, insurance/reinsurance, tourism and travel services11
Sources: Compiled from national schedules of specific commitments (April 15, 1994) in the Uruguay Round.

Mauritania, classified in the Uruguay Round as a least developed country, will have an extension of one year after the conclusion of the round to submit specific commitments to market access in services.

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates did not submit their schedules of commitments as of April 15, 1994.

Sources: Compiled from national schedules of specific commitments (April 15, 1994) in the Uruguay Round.

Mauritania, classified in the Uruguay Round as a least developed country, will have an extension of one year after the conclusion of the round to submit specific commitments to market access in services.

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates did not submit their schedules of commitments as of April 15, 1994.

Second, horizontal commitments made by Arab countries in national schedules specify market-opening measures applying to all sectors, although with explicit limitations. For instance, most Arab countries have entered in their national schedules horizontal limitations related to the supply of foreign services through commercial presence, and to entry and temporary stay of natural persons for the purpose of supplying services. Commitments with respect to the exercise of commercial activities range from placing limitations on equity participation by foreign investors, which have been listed in the national schedules of Bahrain and Egypt, to limitations on national treatment of foreign service suppliers to purchase real estate, which have been entered in the national schedules of Bahrain, Kuwait, and Egypt.

Finally, as regards the supply of services through the presence of natural persons, most Arab countries have entered in their schedules limitations on the admission of intracorporate transferees and professionals, subject either to a quota or national immigration laws or to an economic needs test.

Assessment of Arab Countries’ Integration in the Multilateral Trading System

The process of full integration of Arab countries in the multilateral trading system through membership in the GATT/WTO shows their willingness to undertake binding commitments to offer security in their own import markets. This, in turn, will promote the predictability and transparency of their trade regimes, both of which are necessary to increase investment opportunities and capital flows to these Arab countries.

In addition, this important development has showed that these countries have in fact locked in their unilateral trade and exchange reforms through the multilateral liberalization process. For instance, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia have considerably increased concessions—in the forms of bound tariff schedules in GATT/WTO and specific commitments to begin opening market access to foreign suppliers of financial services—in part to secure trade and exchange reforms implemented so far. In addition, Morocco and Tunisia have made commitments to reduce domestic support to specific agricultural products. These commitments are in line with the adopted reform of price deregulation of basic commodities, which aimed to improve efficiency in the economy and to help redress the budgetary imbalance.

Policy Implications and Recommendations

The foregoing discussion of the potential effects of the new liberalization of world markets on Arab countries’ trading interests provides a background against which policy implications can be viewed. As shown above, Arab countries in general will encounter both negative and positive effects. This section seeks to provide policy advice that maximizes the opportunities provided by the new world trading environment and minimizes the potential negative effects arising from increased world competition. Furthermore, the effectiveness of such policy recommendations will depend in large part on individual countries’ efforts to adjust to the new opportunities and challenges of the international trading environment. In addition, there are others that require broader regional cooperation and coordination in order for Arab countries both to keep pace with the current integration of the world economy and to make the most out of the strengthened rules-based multilateral trading system, as a result of the Uruguay Round.

Sectoral Implications

First, there are specific policy options that address the potential static losses associated with the erosion of preferential treatment and possible food price hikes. In addition, other policy instruments are suggested to help Arab countries to maximize the dynamic but nonquantifiable gains from the rules-based multilateral trading system—for example, the emphasis on outward-oriented market strategies and the development of regulatory frameworks and administrative capacity.

Compensation for Erosion of Preferential Treatment

The possible erosion of Arab countries’ margins of preferences will involve some transitional costs. As European Union markets become more competitive, the comparative advantage of Arab country beneficiaries will be increasingly challenged by other more efficient producers among developing economies. There will also be erosion of the Arab countries’ preference margins under the GSP.

A durable solution to an erosion of preferential treatment should be pursued by taking advantage of world market openings as a result of the Uruguay Round, through a diversification strategy aiming at the wider perspectives of trade liberalization with respect to more quality products that are competitive in world markets. This is in contrast to a preferential arrangement, be it through the European Union or the GSR

Furthermore, there is widespread agreement that the positive results of the Uruguay Round with respect to market access are likely to favor outward-oriented developing countries with more efficient and diversified production structures at the cost of those relying on trade preferences for their market access. Outward orientation of the trade regime implies liberalization of import and export regimes, with more neutral policy measures toward both. Accordingly, the reciprocal market liberalization within the framework of the Uruguay Round will, on the one hand, secure access to foreign markets in the areas in which countries have a comparative advantage. On the other hand, countries’ offers to secure their import markets will improve the transparency and predictability of their trade regimes vis-à-vis trading partners.

Progress in reciprocal liberalization has been made by Arab country participants in the Uruguay Round. As far as their development strategy is concerned, the change from import substitution to a more market- and export-oriented policy since the mid-1980s was aimed at enhancing Arab countries’ productivity and competitiveness through more efficient resource allocation.

The extent of Arab countries’ ability to exploit the new trade opportunities resulting from improved market access will be determined by their ability to achieve rapid change in their outward orientation through further import liberalization and more neutral trade policies toward the export sector. Budgetary and balance of payments pressures on the government to keep border protection relatively high in some Arab countries have to be weighed against the longer-term potential gains from enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of the economy through a relatively open trade system.

Supply Responses in Agriculture

There are two likely effects of the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture for Arab countries: first, the direct impact on net food-importing countries of possible increases in food prices after agricultural liberalization; second, the indirect effect of the general elimination of nontariff measures (tariffication) on Arab country producers of agricultural goods.

Regarding the latter, and given the long implementation periods of the agreement (five to ten years) and the idea that tariffication might lead to short-term increases in tariffs, benefits of these changes for Arab countries as producers of agricultural products are likely to come not only in the form of prospective increase in export sales, but also in greater predictability of access to markets for exports and greater price stability in international markets. These are necessary conditions to ensure efficient investments in the agricultural sector of individual countries. Consequently, to ensure potential welfare improvement in this sector, Arab governments need to bring domestic market conditions and world market conditions into closer alignment.

As regards the likely deterioration in the terms of trade of Arab countries from possible higher food prices, since the implementation period of agricultural subsidy reductions extends up to the end of the decade, this should in fact provide more leeway to net food-importing countries in the region. These countries will need to improve supply responses in the form of increases in investments, utilization of new technologies, and, most important of all, elimination of remaining distortions affecting local production in the agricultural sector.

Efficiency Gains in Services

The implications of trade liberalization in services for Arab countries are limited to their specific commitments on the level of market access that they agreed upon in the Uruguay Round or for accession to the WTO. As previously mentioned, these market-opening commitments reflect countries’ comparative advantage in specific sectors (for example, tourism) and their economic need for transfer of technology and know-how. The crucial policy issue of opening domestic markets to foreign service suppliers should be best dealt with by assessing whether there are efficiency gains that a country stands to reap as firms and consumers obtain access to lower-cost and higher-quality services. When services are used as intermediate inputs in the production of goods (for instance, financial services and shipping), the access to lower-cost and higher-quality services should increase the competitiveness of domestic producers of goods on world markets.

To limit possible adverse effect from the previous liberalizing measures, the GATS allows the use of a safeguard clause for the balance of payments that may be taken if the domestic service industry experiences a threat from foreign service suppliers.

Subsidies to Domestic Industries

The Uruguay Round addressed subsidies, a widely used instrument of industrial policy for promoting national industries. The new Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures restricts the freedom of a country to use export subsidies. As mentioned in the first section of this chapter, the agreement lists three categories of industry subsidies: prohibited (export subsidies), actionable, and nonactionable. Only nonactionable subsidies, which include subsidies for research and development activities and aid for industries in disadvantaged regions of a country, are not prohibited and are nonactionable. All other specific production subsidies (that are not tied to exports) when limited to certain enterprises are actionable.

In recognition that subsidies may play an important role in the economic development programs of developing countries, these countries are provided with a set of “graduation” criteria. First, developing countries with GNP per capita of $1,000 or over must phase out their export subsidies within a transitional period of eight years, and subsidies tied to using domestic inputs within five years. Special exemptions are provided for least developed countries, until such a time as their annual GNP per capita reaches $1,000.

As regards the implications for Arab country members of the WTO of the application of the new disciplines of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, considerable adjustment toward curtailing export subsidies will be required across both categories of countries—that is, those that have moved away from import substitution and adopted an active export promotion strategy under macroeconomic policy reforms (Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia), and Arab country members of the GCC that have used export-promotion schemes for diversification away from hydrocarbons. According to the phase-in period of the subsidy reform for developing countries, Arab country members of the GATT/WTO will have to review their export-promoting schemes for export-oriented enterprises. Policy advice would be to rationalize these schemes by gradually replacing sectoral subsidies to encourage exports with more horizontal subsidies, such as support for the development of national research capabilities to foster the long-term diversification of comparative advantage in the manufacturing sector.

In broad terms, it is noteworthy to mention that the resistance of developing country governments to alter their behavior on subsidies may be met by increasing countervailing measures taken by industrial countries.

Regulatory Framework

Arab countries’ commitment to liberalize imports within the Uruguay Round framework will make Arab markets more open and more competitive. At the same time, this import liberalization will put pressure on domestic industries. To limit possible threats from increasing imports and to ensure the proper administration of nontariff measures on imports, Arab country governments need to adopt regulatory measures as follows. First, there is a need to put into place antidumping and countervailing laws as well as customs valuation procedures that conform to the Uruguay Round agreements. Second, there will be a need to develop an administrative capacity to administer these laws through “trade remedies” machinery, to conduct material injury inquiries related to antidumping and countervailing duties actions as well as invocation of safeguard measures.

Third, Arab countries’ pursuance of future multilateral trade negotiations, especially in services, calls for enhanced expertise of national trade administration in collecting adequate national statistical data and conducting related analyses, to enable the government to identify national trade interests accurately and develop a corresponding trade policy strategy.

Regional Implications

The ongoing efforts of Arab countries toward outward-oriented market strategies and their active participation in the GATT/WTO will ensure a convergence of their trade regimes and policies as well as a greater openness to each other. This might provide a solid basis not only for reciprocal exchange of concessions in terms of market access for agricultural and industrial production, but also for policy harmonization in industrial subsidization, market opening in services, intellectual property rights, and investment measures.

As far as intra-Arab trade liberalization is concerned, there have been several attempts to create a single Arab Common Market, notably within the framework of the regional preferential agreement concluded in 1981. In addition, there has been the establishment of the GCC in 1981 and more recently, of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) in 1989. To date the GCC has achieved a free-trade area and has made steady progress toward the creation of a common market. The AMU has made some progress in duty-free treatment for product groups originating in its member countries.

Nevertheless, these efforts at regional integration have not achieved significant increases in intra-Arab trade (Zarrouk, 1992; and Shafik, 1994). Limited production and export bases, and the failure to reduce high levels of protection among Arab countries, have in part been causes for the low regional integration. It has even been advocated that protectionism in many Arab countries may have prompted the countries with more diversified exporters to increase their dependency on access opportunities in less protected industrial markets.

The likely loss of preferential treatment of Arab exports in industrial country markets, notably in the European Union markets, as a result of the Uruguay Round raises a new concern about the issue of compensation through other access opportunities. Arguably, the Arab markets may potentially compensate for the forgone opportunities. First, inter-Arab markets are an important destination for Arab exports of agricultural and industrial products (see Figure 1). These have even been predominant importing markets for a number of individual countries (Jordan, Lebanon, and Sudan). In addition, a regional grouping—such as a free-trade area grouping all Arab countries—offers more diversified factor endowments and a larger market size for exploiting economies of scale than smaller subregional groupings whose members tend to be competitors and have a similar comparative advantage, thus limiting the scope for trade creation.

Furthermore, a free-trade area, which is permitted under provisions of GATT Article 24 and is compatible with MFN liberalization, would lead to a substantial net creation of trade if it extends liberalization to all the areas covered by the Uruguay Round agreements, including services and service-related movement of natural persons, investment, and intellectual property rights. As shown in the case of regional arrangements among industrial countries, intraregional trade liberalization is likely to increase when country members are “like-minded,” outward-oriented economies and have the ability to “lock in” internal policy reforms, by making use of nondiscriminatory rules and committing to a binding and transparent mechanism for dispute resolution. These lessons from “doers” also show that regional liberalization requires a high level of regulatory coordination and harmonization among the members.

The possible creation of a free-trade area among Arab countries has become vital in order to keep pace with the rapid integration of the world economy. For instance, despite the conclusion of the Uruguay Round, the trend toward regional trade arrangements has continued along with the successful cases of the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the most recent Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) decision to establish a free-trade area among 18 developing and industrial countries by 2010.9 The need for an urgent response to this challenge is especially pressing for Arab countries. The European Union, the Arab countries’ major trading partner, considers integration of the region as mutually beneficial. Consequently, the creation of an Arab free-trade area would strengthen the negotiating position of Arab countries seeking integration based on reciprocal trade liberalization with the outside world.

Conclusions

Surveys of some empirical evidence on Arab trade structure and trade-related policies suggest that the post-Uruguay Round market liberalization will lead to two potentially adverse effects on the Arab economies: the erosion of preferences in industrial country markets and the increase in food expenditures as a result of possible higher food prices.

A main finding in surveying the Uruguay Round results of Arab countries’ commitments to market access for goods and services is that the binding commitments reflect the progress that these economies have made in liberalizing their trade regimes and reforming their exchange systems. This active participation in the GATT/WTO will provide outward-looking Arab countries with security of access to world markets in the areas where they have comparative advantage.

Finally, this chapter has identified two main policy implications. The Uruguay Round results are likely to strengthen those Arab economies that have initiated structural reforms using effective microeconomic policies to improve the competitiveness and productivity of manufacturing. Furthermore, the magnitude of transition costs from the loss of preferential treatment in industrial country markets could be compensated by improving access opportunities among Arab country markets. In this respect, further regional cooperation in intra-Arab trade liberalization and trade policy harmonization is needed to keep pace with the increasing integration of the world economy, in which regional economic groupings are expected to be a dominant feature. The creation of an Arab free-trade area would provide a solid basis for regional integration in terms of markets for agricultural and industrial production. Such a regional grouping would stimulate domestic as well as foreign investments and would also allow Arab countries to pursue more vigorously multilateral liberalization with the outside world in the context of the WTO.

Bibliography

    AndersonK.1994“Multilateral Trade Negotiations, European Integration, and Farm Policy Reform,”Economic PolicyApril181994.

    Arab Monetary Fund and others1994Arab Joint Economic Report 1994 (Arabic) (Abu DhabiDecember).

    BhagwatiJ.N.1987“Outward Orientation: Trade Issues,” in Growth-Oriented Adjustment Programsed. by VittorioCorboMorrisGoldstein andMohsinKhan (Washington: International Monetary Fund).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    DeMeloJaime andArvindPanagariya1993New Dimensions in Regional Integration (New York: Cambridge University Press).

    El-ErianMohamed A. andS.Tareq1993“Economic Reform in Arab Countries: A Review of Structural Issues,” in Economic Development of the Arab Countriesed. by SaidEl-Naggar (Washington: International Monetary Fund).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    GATT1989Trade Policy ReviewMorocco (Geneva).

    GATT1992Trade Policy ReviewEgypt (Geneva).

    GATT1993“An Analysis of the Proposed Uruguay Round Agreement, with Particular Emphasis on Aspects of Interest to Developing Economies,”MTN. TNC/122 29 (GenevaNovember).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    GATT1994aTrade Policy ReviewTunisia (Geneva).

    GATT1994b“The Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, Market Access for Goods and Services: Overview of the Results” (GenevaNovember).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    GATT1994cMultilateral Agreement on Trade in GoodsScheduleseveral volumes covering the Arab countries’ tariff schedules (Geneva).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    GATT1994dMultilateral Agreement on Trade in ServicesScheduleseveral volumes covering the Arab countries’ schedules of specific commitments and the lists of Article II (MFN) exceptions (Geneva).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    GATT/WTO1994Final Act Embodying the Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade NegotiationsMarrakeshApril151994.

    GoldinIanOdinKnudsen andDominique van derMensbrugghe1993Trade Liberalisation: Global Economic Implications (Washington: World Bank).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    HodaAnwarul1994“Trade Liberalization Results of the Uruguay Round” (Paris: OECD).

    HoekmanBernard1993“Developing Countries and the Uruguay Round: Negotiations on Services” (Washington: World Bank).

    Hong-YulH.1994“Effects of the Uruguay Round Negotiations on the Korean Economy,”Economic Bulletin (Seoul) No. 1.

    India Export-Import Bank1994“The Uruguay Round Agreement: Implications for Indian Exports,”Occasional PaperNo. 28 (Bombay: Export-Import Bank of India).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    KellyMargaret andBernhardFritz-Krochow1992“Trade Policies in Industrial Countries and Their Impact on Arab Countries,” in Foreign and Intratrade Policies of the Arab Countriesed. by SaidEl-Naggar (Washington: International Monetary Fund).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    KellyMargaret andA.K.McGuirk1992Issues and Developments in International Trade PolicyWorld Economic and Financial Surveys (Washington: International Monetary Fund).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    KirmaniNaheed and others1994International Trade Policies: The Uruguay Round and Beyond World Economic and Financial Surveys2 vols. (Washington: International Monetary Fund).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    LowPatrick andAlexanderYeats1994“Nontariff Measures and Developing Countries: Has the Uruguay Round Leveled the Playing Field?”Policy Research Working PaperNo. 1353 (Washington: World BankAugust).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)1994The New World Trading System (ParisOctober).

    ShafikNemat1994“Learning from Doers: Lessons on Regional Integration for the Middle East” (unpublished; Washington: World Bank, Middle East and North Africa RegionMay).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)1994“The Outcome of the Uruguay Round: An Initial Assessment,”Supporting Papers to the Trade and Development Report (Geneva).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

    World BankWorld Development Report 1991 (New York: Oxford University Press).

    ZarroukJamal1992 “Intra-Arab Trade: Determinants and Prospects for Expansion,” in Foreign and Intratrade Policies of the Arab Countriesed. by SaidEl-Naggar (Washington: International Monetary Fund).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
*The author wishes to thank Faris Bin Garadi, Mustapha Kara, and Mohammed Alhaj for their valuable comments on a previous draft. Nevertheless, the views expressed here are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the Arab Monetary Fund.
1That is, a commitment not to increase a tariff on a product above the negotiated level, except by negotiation with compensation for affected trading partners.
2The quotations are from GATT (1994b).
3These are restrictive measures of questionable legal standing under the GATT.
4Egypt and Morocco are listed among those specified countries in Annex VII of the ASC agreement.
5National treatment means that a foreign investor would be treated no less favorably than national investors with respect to the stated measures.
6Trade in fuels accounts for 9 percent of total world merchandise exports, of which Arab countries’ export share accounts for 25.5 percent.
7The Maghreb countries comprise Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. The Mashreq countries are Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and the Syrian Arab Republic.
8Tariff quotas define the application of different rates of duty (tariffs) by specified volume (the lower rate applying until the specified volume is reached, the higher rate thereafter).
9Some developing country members will be given an additional ten years, until 2020.

    Other Resources Citing This Publication