World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


REGIONAL ECONOMIC ISSUES -I (315) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: THU 22, 11.30 am-1.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English, Français

· NOT_DEFINED description:
Paper presenter: Mme Karima Meghari (Chargée de cours, Faculté des Sciences Économiques, des Sciences de Gestion et des Sciences Commerciales, Algérie), “Les Économies en Afrique du Nord”
L'Afrique du Nord couvre un grand nombre de pays à savoir: le Maroc, la Tunisie, Egypte, Algérie, Libye, Soudan et la Mauritanie. Chacun de ces pays jouit d’une riche et longue histoire et doté de fortes caractéristiques individuelles. Certains pays de cette région ont mis en œuvre des programmes d’assainissement des équilibres financiers et de maîtrise de l’inflation. Ces économies continuent à accuser des niveaux de croissance trop faibles pour assurer une réelle amélioration dans la sphère sociale et la détente dans le marché de l’emploi caractérisé par la pression de la demande en accroissement continu. Cet article est une étude de synthèse sur la situation macroéconomique en Afrique du Nord et il dégage une idée générale qui concerne le redressement économique et la consolidation des efforts entrepris par la plupart de ces pays. C’est à travers tout ce qui précède les contours de la problématique de ce travail et que nous formulons comme suite: La croissance économique a-t-elle été plus rapide au cours de ces dernières années? Pour cela nous avons choisi d’étudier dans ce rapport: la croissance économique des pays d’Afrique du nord et l’enrichir à partir des modèles économétriques.

Paper presenter: Scott G. Brown (Instructor, University of Arizona, USA), “In the Footsteps of 'Mules': Tracking Contraband Trade in the Maghrib”
The historical relationship between North Africa and Mediterranean Europe has largely been defined by the European colonial activities of. As the 21st century begins to unfold, the importance of the relationship between the Maghrib states and their former ruling powers remains both pertinent and important within numerous contexts, from economic and social exchange to security and military cooperation. Non-state actors and rogue groups continue to capitalize on the contraband trade; that is the exchange of illegal goods and merchandise, usually conducted in vastly growing black markets and illegal trading routes and posts. In the Maghrib, much of this is centered around narcotics, contraband cigarettes, small arms, and even human trafficking. As such, the activities of groups controlling and regulating the contraband trade in the region (most notably, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib) are presenting legitimate and serious challenges as 'mediums of contention' which both confront and threaten the security priorities of the Maghribi states. This study will explore the burgeoning and rapidly expanding contraband trade in the Maghrib, the role that it plays in connecting the Sahel and Europe, and its solidifying relationship with non-state Islamist groups and their allies. The Maghrib serves as the intermediary site of contraband trade, and such a study will attempt to identify its position as an ''arena of exchange'' between Sahelian Africa as well as Mediterranean Europe. I am particularly interested in not only understanding the North African trade as part of a trans-continental paradigm, but also its effects on the local populations and their daily life. In an area that suffers from seemingly unyielding poverty and famine, does contraband trade threaten already established norms within both Maghribi 'micro-economies' and the larger economic agendas of the affected states? Do Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib's recent ventures into kidnapping and extortion, present a threat to weak regional governments which could eventually yield into failed states? I intend to analyze this question through a multidisciplinary approach: examining the historical rise of contraband trade in the 20th century in North Africa, understanding contraband trade as a tool of contention which often encapsulates those on the margins of society, and analyzing the political 'trickle down' effect on Arab and both Mediterranean/pan-Sahelian relations. Sources include statistics from the UN, Interpol, and World Bank and drug policy NGOs; newspaper reports in French and Arabic; and interviews with local diplomatic officials.

Paper presenter: Eugenia Pecoraro (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), “China’s strategy in North Africa and future economic challenges for the Mediterranean region”
During the China-Africa Cooperation Forum held in Sharm-el Sheik on 8-9 November 2009, China established a new era of relations with Africa. Eight measures are ready to be launched in order to strengthen cooperation in different fields: agriculture, food security, infrastructure, trade, investment and public health. China’s relationships with North African countries are different from those with the rest of the African continent, due to a more stable political environment and a differentiated socio-economic situation.
This study aims to examine the Chinese approach to North Africa by clarifying the different types of business agreements as key elements of the Beijing consensus. Through a comparison of economic and statistical data as well as through interviews with entrepreneurs, representatives from local governments and chambers of commerce, the study highlights why North African countries are increasing their imports from China, and why China has become the second trade partner to Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Syria and the third trade partner to Morocco. Chinese foreign direct investments in the area are growing fast while the number of Chinese residents is also rapidly rising. The Mediterranean is a large market of 800 million inhabitants and represents a strategic platform for Chinese firms wishing to enter the European market. The advantages for North African countries lie in the existing free-trade agreements and absence of tariff barriers and in its highly beneficial geographical location as a hub in the Mediterranean region.
In the near future, China and the Union for the Mediterranean will be partners and competitors at the same time. Once regional economic integration is achieved, the Mediterranean will be a free trade zone. A better understanding of how simultaneous cooperation and competition impact on one another in specific industrial sectors like textiles and automobiles could encourage the Union for the Mediterranean to step up its trade engagements and identify key aspects of regional policy, taking into account the Chinese involvement in the area. On the other hand, there are some priority issues to be considered. Chinese industrialisation in North Africa could veil the relocation of some of the highly-polluting mainland industries requiring low-skilled workers. Social conflicts may be generated since Chinese businesses are used to providing their own workers and not employing local people. The political actors will need to find a balance between sustainable development and the economic interests in the region.