World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010

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REGIONAL ECONOMIC ISSUES -II (365) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel
 

· NOT_DEFINED date: THU 22, 2.30-4.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:

Paper presenter: Nachum Shiloh (PhD Candidate, Tel Aviv University, Israel), “The World's Financial Crescent - Islamic Banking and Its Global Characteristics”
After unsuccessful attempts to establish Islamic banks in Nasser's Egypt during the 1960s, it was Dubai which witnessed in 1975 the establishment of the first successful Islamic bank in the world. The Islamic Bank of Dubai was the first to implement the economic principles of the Shari'a, by abstaining from charging interest and by avoiding all business considered to be immoral in Islam, like gambling, pornography, alcohol and pork-meat. Since then, and especially during this passing decade, Islamic banking expanded rapidly. Many Islamic banks and other Islamic financial institutions were established worldwide and currently there are approximately 400 Islamic financial institutions with a total volume of business estimated at 1 trillion dollars. Based on a variety of sources, including professional literature, newspapers, websites and internet forums, my presentation will shed light on the special mechanisms used by Islamic banks, like mark-up trade financing ('Murabaha'), joint ventures based on the principle of ''Profit and Loss Sharing'' ('Musharaka'), venture capital funding ('Mudharaba') and leasing deals (''Ijarah'). I will also refer to other mechanisms, about which Islamic scholars are disputed, like the Islamic securities (''Sukuk') and the multi-stage deals ('Tawaruq'). The presentation will argue that Islamic banking is a global phenomenon and an important economic factor, which has an expanding presence not only in the Middle East and in Muslim countries like Pakistan and Malaysia, but also in countries and regions in which the Muslim population is a minority, sometimes quite small, like Japan, Singapore, Western Europe and North America. I will emphasize that the advantages of Islamic banking, and especially this sector's capability to enhance liquidity and to simplify bureaucratic procedures, convinced Western governments to encourage Islamic Banking and even to initiate legislation in its favor. My presentation will show that Islamic Banking not only became a global phenomenon, but also raised disputes and controversies. For example, in regions like the Middle East, there is a fierce struggle between Islamic and conventional banking systems and in other parts of the world, like in Europe and in North America, there is a growing debate about this financial system. While its opponents claim that it might strengthen radical Islam and foster financial delinquency and even terror-financing, its supporters argue that Islamic Banking is not only a great and promising economic method, which is more immune to global economic disasters, but that it also serves as a genuine bridge between cultures and civilizations.

Paper presenter: Mohamed El-Far (PhD Candidate, Queen Mary, University of London, UK), “Competition Law Implications Arising from the QIZ Protocol between Egypt, Israel and USA”
This article is intended to strictly address the competition law concerns arising from the Protocol of the Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) has entered into force between Egypt, Israel and U.S.A. These concerns arise after four years of enforcement. Basically, the Egyptian importers have been complaining about the exploitative prices of the Israeli imports. Moreover, the official figures of the Egyptian Authorities admit and show that there is an increase in the prices of the Israeli imports around 20- 30% than the international prices. However, the Egyptian Authorities (without referring to the Egyptian Competition Authority) claim that this increase in prices is not attributed to anticompetitive practices as they allege that the Israeli market is free and competitive. Therefore, article shows that the Israeli market can hardly be described as a “free and competitive market” as alleged by the Egyptian government on behalf of its Israeli counterpart. Furthermore, it sheds some light on the role of the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) and its powers. Special emphasis is made on the extra-territorial powers of the ECA and its powers regarding this case in particular. It also highlights the main anticompetitive practices prohibited under the Egyptian competition law (ECL).This article propose a framework for any prospective study undertaken by the ECA. It also assures that there indications that there are enough concerns that are sufficient for the ECA to initiate an official inspection. Accordingly, this study urges the ECA to initiate that study to check whether there is any anticompetitive practice in that identified market.

Paper presenter: Abbas Ibrahim Zahreddine (PhD Candidate, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain), “Regional Market Matters: Policy Analysis, Institutional Development and Capacity Building (The case of Mashrek Agriculture)”
People in the Mashrek are losing their local traditional outlets and regional markets for products. Consumers in the city are similarly challenged to find affordable sources of healthy local food. The problem of poverty in the Mashrek exacerbates the tensions created by the conflicts in the Middle East. Additionally, the recent significant increases in the food prices and agro-production inputs have assisted in increasing insecurity rates of vulnerable people and enforce many of small rural farmers to migrate their agricultural activities. At the same time, the available outlets for the produce of the low-income consumers are shrinking. While supermarkets grow, Souks are returning to the fore in the guise of experience marketing. Souks are challenged in terms of standardization, food safety and hygiene, legal and financial environment hinder the rehabilitation of such local traditional food wholesales and retailer markets, and poor lobbying power of the food sector businesses result in their needs not being addressed by governments and local authorities. Moreover, small producers see their local and regional commercial outlets cut off by the frequent conflicts. The food distribution system in the Mashrek has been seriously damaged by the border controls. Significant part of fresh agricultural commodities production used to spoil or loss its quality due to the delay on borders and the lack of post harvest infrastructure in addition to the limit access to abroad markets. Furthermore, the principles of isonomy and the right to development -in view to examine the roots of the problems, the current challenges and opportunities for the capacity of generating peace, socio-political transformation, and endogenous, competitive and sustainable economic development- didn’t embark up till now. A governance of impediments reduces considerably the possibilities of decentralisation, free competition, equal rights and opportunities. The nature of the current regimes turns into a high level of insecurity, social injustice, and political economies of inequalities leading to marginalisation and severe rural and underprivileged livelihood. This situation requires more than ever the ability to promote national and regional policy analysis, institutional development, capacity building, and actions to improve the situation. This research project provides a view of actual experiences and plans within Mashrek regional cross-border cooperation, an overview of wholesale and retail markets, and finally a review of a regional institutional framework for region-wide joint action on education and capacity building, enhancement of agricultural production and rebuilding governance for food supply system to support food security and rural development.