World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


National Economic Issues: Egypt, Israel, Morocco and Syria (249) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: WED, 21 / 2.30 - 4.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:
Chair: Josep Maria Jordan (Professor of Applied Economics - University of Valencia)

Paper presenter: Christian Neugebauer (Scientific Assistant, University of Marburg, Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies), "FDI and Socio-economic Development in the Mediterranean Countries: The Case of Morocco"
For over two decades the MENA region has fallen behind other world regions in terms of socio-economic development. This is due in part to economic underachievement, evident by a number of indicators, among them foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. The promotion of FDI, however, has been one of the pillars in the economic basket of the ‘Barcelona Process’, initiated at the conference of Barcelona in 1995 by the EU member states and the non-EU states bordering the Mediterranean. The enhanced attraction of FDI was seen as one essential path to upgrade the economies on the southern rim of the Mediterranean, thus leading these countries onto the path of economic growth and socio-economic development. This reasoning was in line with a renewed emphasis on FDI as a vehicle for economic growth and development in the academic literature, evident from the mid-1980s onwards. Thus, a range of positive developmental effects were attributed to FDI, among them technology transfer, human resource development, linkage effects, capital formation and trade creation. One of the southern Mediterranean states which seem to have advanced the most in attracting FDI is Morocco. It has recently been portrayed as the EU’s ‘role model student’ regarding the implementation of the economic reforms envisaged in its Association Agreement with the EU. Due to its progress, Morocco has also been the state benefiting the most from MEDA I and II programs, and it has been given an ‘advanced status’ by the EU in 2008.Despite robust economic growth and soaring FDI inflows in the last years, Morocco has still not been performing as well as comparable developing countries in other world regions. Likewise, improvements in socio-economic development, measured by the UN Millenium Development Goals, seem to be rather slim. This paper thus focuses on the role of FDI in socio-economic development and asks which effects FDI actually has in Morocco. The question is if, despite the overwhelming appraisal and support given by the EU, FDI in Morocco has effects that are not conducive to socio-economic development. In order to shed light on this issue, the effects of FDI on economic, social and political structures in Morocco will be examined.

Paper presenter: Melike Kara Ozberk (PhD student, École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, EHESS, Turkey), “Political Economy of Reforms and Syrian Businessmen: A Case Study on Damascus Chamber of Commerce”
Syria has passed through significant political, economic and social transformations since 2000. An analysis of these transformations will certainly enrich our scholarly understanding on not only the Eastern Mediterranean region but also the Third World, which has been trying to be integrated to the capitalist world economy for more than three decades and to cope with the neoliberal market economy and its repercussions on state-society relations. The reform efforts in Syria which accelerated especially after 2001 illustrate the general tendency of region’s states and are explicative in the way to understand the structural changes and their resonances on societies. In this regard, it is vital to trace the economic and social transformations occurred during the last decade and pay a special attention to the new discourse of Syrian state, the ‘social market economy’, which is a manifestation of ‘immature neoliberal market economy’ aiming also to maintain a balance among different social classes on popular level due to the long-lasting Baathist ideology. By the relative liberalization of the market, the relations between the business milieu and the State have been transformed too. My presentation will focus on the changing nature of these relations by a case study on the Damascus Chamber of Commerce. Consequently, together with an analysis of new orientations in the Syrian economy which I term as the Third Infitah that started in 2003, the presentation will shed a light on the state-business relations thanks to the case study which consists of the interviews conducted with the prominent members of Damascus Chamber of Commerce in 2009 and 2010. Likewise domestic and external structures matter, international and national actors are also determinants in social and economic transformations. A certain perspective enriched with a historical sociological approach and the efficient conceptual tool of path-dependency will be used to contemplate on state-business relations.

Paper presenter: Saleem Nayif (PhD student, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Israel), “Designing a Socio-economic Development Model for Arab Farmers in Israel”
Israel's agricultural sector is characterized by a very modern and intensive system of production, backed by advanced organizational structure which based on close cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture, the Settlement Department of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Farmers' Organizations. However, the political and socio economic environment of the Arab Farmers, tackled them to share their colleagues to the job in the Jewish sector the “development cake”. It’s expressed by unfair land ownership policy, lack of agricultural subsidies and development funds, tangled with absence of any representative body in the decision makers table, that leave them out from national and regional development plans. This study-paper suggests grouping farmers through Farmers'' Organization and Producers'' Cooperatives that have a viable potential, both socially and economically, which expresses one of its principal comparative advantages as a socio-economic model for the family farms holders - men and women - of the land, interested in consolidating their position as producers of goods and services within the agricultural business activity. Unfortunately, the Arab agricultural cooperatives and ''their representative associations'' failed to play any significant role on building marketing of agriculture produce, which is presumably should be their major area of operation, nothing has been done to open new markets, improve auxiliary marketing services, or stabilize prices. In spite of that, it should be noted that, no one can deny the efforts made by Arab farmers for improving their production and retaining their agricultural life style. Some have achieved high production records when granted the opportunities and should be entitled due esteem and appreciation. In brief, development of agriculture in the Arab sector requires institution of a policy that will increase profitability, encourage initiatives and excellence, and allocate resources to achieve advancements in the farming economy. Agricultural development that is efficient and productive as well as sustainable in its use of resources, competitive in terms of external orientation, and providing adequate incomes to a large number of farmers with equitable distribution of incomes and benefits. Key words: Arab agriculture, socio-economic development, Agricultural cooperatives, Farmers' Organizations, economic advantage, Agro-food chains management.