Recent US Free Trade Initiatives in the Middle East: Opportunities but No Guarantees
AbstractThis paper evaluates the US initiative to establish a Free Trade Agreement with countries in the Middle East by signing bilateral agreements with the countries individually and then combining them into a single arrangement. These agreements present new opportunities for Arab countries, but to take full advantage, they will have to complement the agreements with additional policy measures, both individually, and together. The promise comes from the ability to use the agreements as a catalyst for improving regulatory rules and systems at home and facilitating integration with the rest of the region and the world. But the agreements also present problems for Arab countries, first in relating these US agreements to agreements with other trading partners – most importantly the EU; second in creating political difficulties associated with closer relations with the USA given problems in the region, and third, in undertaking the necessary economic and political policies that are necessary to realize the benefits.