Two million jobs could be created in League of Arab States region if Non-Tariff Measures were eliminated
The League of Arab States (LAS) region could increase trade among its member states by 10% and create two million new jobs by removing obstacles to intra-regional trade, according to new research by the International Trade Centre (ITC). The results of the study were presented today in Doha, Qatar at an event co-hosted by ITC and TASDEER, titled ‘Free Trade Agreements: Necessary but not sufficient. Lessons from the Arab Region.’ and held within the framework of the Thirteenth United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII). Trade among the LAS members is low when compared to other regions and is being held back by non-tariff measures, according to the study ‘League of Arab States’ Regional Integration: Opportunities for trade and employment’. Only 11% of the LAS’ total trade takes place among its members, while the European Union members’ trade with each other is 60% of its total trade. As a result of the non-tariff measures, the LAS remains largely dependent on trade with the outside world.
ITC’s study finds that barriers to trade in goods and services are heterogeneous: they are high in the food sector, low in textiles and clothing, and almost nonexistent for oil.
‘Trade agreements providing preferential market access do not insulate against problems related to non-tariff measures, that is clear’, said Ms. Patricia R. Francis, Executive Director of ITC. ‘Our study found that if these non-tariff measures were eliminated, two million new jobs would be created, including 80,000 skilled jobs'. In his keynote speech at the panel discussion, Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), emphasized what he called ‘an urgent need to promote entrepreneurship and business in Arab region’ with the private sector involved in shaping trade policies and governments providing a conducive business environment.
ITC recommends that the region take steps to eliminate non-tariff barriers and, thereby, allow companies to become more competitive. Steps include implementing the provisions related to the elimination of non-tariff barriers within the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement (GAFTA) and fostering public-private dialogue with the goal of removing the obstacles.
‘It is also necessary to expand the services sectors in order to create new jobs, particularly for women,’ said Ms. Francis. ‘High unemployment, especially among women and youth, is a significant challenge for the region. Investing in capacity building and skills development for these individuals can have tremendous impact.’
For more information on the study, please visit http://www.intracen.org/fta-lessons-from-arab-region/
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