By Doaa Farid
Arab countries need more openness and rational liberalization in trade to enhance competitiveness, according to Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC) head Ahmed El-Wakil.
The remarks came during a Monday conference held between FEDCOC and the World Bank, Arab League and the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Agriculture and Industry to discuss the private sector’s perspective on recommendations of a recent World Bank study on regional economic integration, according to a press release from FEDCOC.
The conference also reviewed the untapped areas of investment and trade between Arab countries, identified the sectors needing priority attention, and proposed mechanisms to further cooperation and remove obstacles between those countries.
“As a representative of the private sector, I believe that Arab countries need more openness and rational liberalisation in trade to enhance competitiveness,” said FEDCOC head Ahmed El-Wakil during the conference.
El-Wakil stressed the importance of “not only elevating the tariff barriers between countries, but also solving transport and logistics problems within each country.”
Jean-Pierre Chauffour, a lead economist in the World Bank, said in the conference that the private sector should be given the needed attention from policy makers, according to state-run news agency MENA.
The World Bank issued a new study titled “Over the horizon, the New Levant” which analysed trade and economic conditions in the region giving a future insight.
The study defined Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and West Bank and Gaza as the “New Levant”, saying that these countries appear to be well positioned to benefit from dynamic gains of integration given the geographical proximity to major markets.
“The volume and structure of trade and investment flows among the New Levant countries indicate that there is large untapped potential for deeper and wider integration in the sub-region. This report discusses how to tap these large potentials for mutual benefits,” read the report.
The report stated that a move to political and macroeconomic stability is critical in order to reduce regional uncertainty and revive investment and economic activity.