World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010



· NOT_DEFINED date: MON 19, 5.00-7.00 pm

· NOT_DEFINED institution: GATE and Universitat de Barcelona (Spain)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Aurèlia Mañé

· NOT_DEFINED language: English, Français

· NOT_DEFINED description: Literature on political transitions is now emphasizing the «grey zone» to which many countries are led after following inconclusive and often long processes of change (Carothers). The paradigm of well-managed and completed transitions (Linz, Stepan, O’Donnell and Schmitter) is being strongly challenged by evidence as well as theory. Algeria is a good case in point of unconventional transition (both political and economic), for its long and contradictory character. While some authors refer to «protracted transitions», others simply describe it as semi-authoritarian politics or « liberalized authoritarianism » (Kienle, Geisser and Camau), deliberately excluding any teleology of democracy. Semi-authoritarian regimes can always experience waves of political and/or economic (de)liberalization without really democratizing. From the economic analysis viewpoint, transitions virtually disappeared from the literature after the mid 1990s.This panel intends to focus on Algeria's practices of political and economic liberalization since the reconstruction of Constitutional institutions in 1995-6. We are particularly interested in a political economy analysis of reforms, a «catch all» term in nowadays Algerian politics.
The panel will be organised in two sessions. The first one will deal with the economic issues and the second one with the political maters. In both cases, an only discussant for the four papers is envisaged. Ten minutes is the suggested time for the presentation of each communication, to allow time for joint discussion, which is the main objective of the meeting.

Chair: Francesco Cavatorta (School of Law and Government, Dublin City University, Ireland)

Paper discussant: Aurèlia Mañé (GATE and Universitat de Barcelona)

Paper presenter: Mehdi Abbas (Enseignant-chercheur, Grenoble Université, Laboratoire d’Economie de la Production et de l’Intégration Internationale, LEPII, CNRS and Université Pierre Mendès France), “L'accession de l'Algérie à l'Organisation mondiale du commerce. Déterminants d'économie politique et enjeux systémiques”
The paper raises some issues concerning the accession of Algeria to the WTO and opens a triple reflection:
(i) Which may be the result of economic openness in a rentier economy with institutional instability; therefore, will be enough room on the “political space available” for an economic development strategy?
(ii) Which might be the value of hydrocarbons in a competitive environment and which might be its impact in terms of economic development?
(iii) Which should be the right international political economy for becoming a WTO membership? -If there- and if this process would also imply changes in the international regime for access to oil, and changes in the regional energy balances?

Paper presenter: Khaled Menna et Abdallah Zouache (Université de Lyon, GATE CNRS Lyon-Saint-Etienne), “Reforms and transition: lessons from Algeria's fiscal Policy (2000-2009)”
This paper draws the lessons from the evolution of Algeria’s fiscal policy that has occurred in recent years (2000-2009). Indeed, in the 1990’s, in line with the literature on transition economies, Algeria had chosen to respect the constraints imposed by the international institutions. Algeria then followed the conclusions of this literature on the kind of policy to adopt. This has resulted in a conservative monetary policy and in a huge cut of Algeria’s budgetary policy. Algeria was then seen as a bon élève of the IMF. Nevertheless, in the 2000’s, Algeria changed completely its economic policies, especially its fiscal policy. This change led to two successive fiscal waves, followed by a third one estimated to 150 billions US dollars. These programme revivals were not, by essence, in contradiction with the literature on transition economies since they primarily aimed the renovation of Algerian infrastructures. But, recently, a complementary fiscal law (2009) points out a new ambition: to protect the national economy. This new orientation questions Algeria’s economic strategy. Is Algeria coming back to its old socialist system? Is it a break caused by the financial crisis? This paper will show that Algeria’s fiscal policy in the 2000’s is in compliance with the path chosen in the first of years of the political independence. Algeria’s fiscal policy in the 1990’s could then be seen as a policy of exception derived from the peculiar institutional constraints (notably low oil prices and a civil war) of this period.

Paper presenter: Fatiha Talahite (Chercheur au CNRS, Centre d’Economie de Paris Nord, CNRS-Université Paris 13), “ Réformes et régulation du marché du travail en Algérie”
The labour market was one of the first projects envisaged by reformers in 1987. The approach was founded on the prospect of changing the planning system "hierarchy" into a flexible form. Originally, the project was limited to the renovation of the general status of the worker (SGT) in the framework of the Law for the autonomy of the company; however it did not deal with the employment either in the private sector or in the government one. In 1989, at the launch of reforms, the unification of the legal status of the companies left all kind of workers under the same conditions. The Labour Code enacted in 1991 enshrines the freedom of association, ends with the monopoly of the UGTA, and ratifies the key ILO texts. Since then, numerous institutions and instruments for regulating the labour market have been established. A new labour code, announced in 2006, has been postponed and it has still not started up. This raises questions about the consistency and the irreversibility of this process. The labour legislation is at the heart of many issues related to privatization, to the unemployment policies, wage determination, the FDI, the status of migrant workers, etc. In the light of literature on the labour market in transition economies, both empirical and theoretical, the paper examines the institutional reforms of the labour market in Algeria and their effects on the ongoing transformations.

Paper presenter: Farida Kebri (Directrice Marketing & Relations Publiques à The Housing Bank for Trade and Finance-Algeria), “Le secteur bancaire en Algérie: entre potentialités et limites de management”
The Algerian economy suffers from the absence of a financial market. A gap that the banking sector is trying to correct with the promotion of the economic openness and with the law on the opening of the banking sector to the private capital, both national and foreign, with the reorganisation of state banks and with the establishment of a banking regulation in line with international standards.
The evaluation and the renewal of Algerian the banking system will determine its limits and the obstacles that continue to block its expansion. Then, the paper will provide some answers to such questions as the impact of the inter-bank (libor) market on the allocation of credit to the economy and its effects on the development of domestic investment. For the purpose of this paper, it is also essential to take into account the weight of bad loans in the portfolio of banks, in the liquidity management and in its corollary: the excessive caution in the political credit in banks. At the end, the paper will consider, which has been the impact of the “go and stop” process of public banks’ privatization in Algeria.