What about Freedom of Trade in the Arab World?

Outcomes of the Economic Freedom of the Arab World Conference 2017
Events12.12.2017Hend Shaheen

Economic Freedom is a perquisite to increase prosperity and overcome poverty. It opens doors to independency on several levels; fair competition, creativity and innovation. And even though its positive impact on people’s lives needs no more proof, we still need to address its importance publicly more and more. For this reason, we keep our persistent work with our local partners in the region and those accross the world.

For the 12th year in a row, more than 70 experts, senior politicians, entrepreneurs, and economic scientists from Arab countries and beyond, came to take part in the conference that launched the 12th Annual Report: Economic Freedom in the Arab World 2017. This report is released by us, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (MENA) together with the International Research Foundation (IRF) of Oman, and the Canadian Fraser Institute (FI). This year, the Arab Liberal Federation (ALF), Institut Arabe des Chefs d'Entreprises (IACE), Tunisian Startups, and the Media Partner: L'Economiste Maghrébin were our co-organizers.

An atmosphere of anticipation, cooperation, and openness filled the plenary prior to the opening session of the conference. As media personnel and journalists were getting ready and setting up cameras and microphones, participants started posting there first impressions using the Hashtag: #EFAW2017.

The focus of this year’s two-day conference was Freedom of Trade in the Arab world. The partners of the Foundation in MENA, including members of the Arab Liberal Federation (ALF), intensively studied the conditions of freedom of trade in Arab countries and issued their recommendations on what has to be done to enhance freedom of trade and movement in and among the Arab counties.

For the first time, participants from different backgrounds like liberal politics or civil society actors worked together with experts, economic scientists and entrepreneurs to come-up with practical solutions to face the conditions and threats in the region. Their two-day work paid off and resulted in 19 recommendations that aim to achieve economic integration among the Arab countries.  Important proposals to achieve this goal included the following recommendations:

  • Working on unifying Arab standards to facilitate an inter-Arab trade of goods,  accelerating the adoption of detailed origin rules for Arab goods, and promoting the preference for goods with Arab certificates.

  • Advancing the linkage projects approved by the Arab Economic Summit, particularly railways, lines and seaports given their pivotal importance for achieving regional trade efficiency.

  • Establishing an Arab commercial bank to finance intra-Arab trade and developing local currency payment settlement system for Arab countries.

Through the history of humanity, trade and economic cooperation between countries created peace and prosperity. While a lot of work is still needed to rebuild many countries that have just experienced civil wars in the region, these proposals to improve the conditions of freedom of trade and movement might help in the process of rebuilding these countries, and establishing new values. The values of Freedom!