Survey-based estimates suggest that inequality in Middle Eastern countries is not particularly high by historical and international standards. This column reports research that combines household surveys, national accounts, income tax data and rich lists to produce the first estimates of income inequality at the regional level. The results suggest that the Middle East is the most unequal region in the world.
Commodity markets have been on a rollercoaster ride in the first two decades of the twenty-first century. A new book, summarised in this column, examines the long-term forces of technology, geography, demography and policy that influence these markets, and how their interplay sends price signals to producers and consumers.
Investment in transport infrastructure can improve a country’s growth prospects by facilitating trade. This column reports the findings of research on the impact of a major programme of road upgrades in Turkey from the early 2000s, which converted many two-lane undivided roads into dual carriageways. Trade both within the country and with other countries has benefited significantly from these improvements.
As part of its efforts to alleviate the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan, the European Union has granted a relaxation on origin requirements for selected products from certain parts of the country. This column reports analysis of whether the EU’s decision can help to provide job opportunities for refugees.
Just prior to the Arab Spring, many of the economic and social indicators for the countries of the Middle East and North Africa painted quite a favourable picture of the region. This Project Syndicate column explores why economists failed to anticipate the unrest. One key lesson is that improved economic performance cannot be viewed as an insurance policy against political instability.
How does the financial vulnerability of many developing economies affect the ability of their firms to participate effectively in export markets? This column summarises research on 34 developing countries between 1997 and 2011. Financial crises in both the exporting and importing countries have a big negative effect on export dynamics.
How do MENA firms participating in international trade compare with their counterparts elsewhere in the world as well as with non-traders in the region? This column reports globally comparative data on the size and productivity of firms that export, import and do both – ‘two-way traders’. The results indicate the need for policy measures in MENA economies to promote efficient access to export markets and material inputs, especially for dynamic mid-range firms with potential for growth.
Arab countries have systematically low tax collection rates relative to the size of their economies. What’s more, with rising military expenditures and lower oil prices, the public budgets of the oil-rich states are coming under growing pressure. This column argues that the time is right for region-wide fiscal policy reforms that enact fair and progressive taxation systems.
Turkey has benefited from a customs union with the European Union since the mid-1990s, but now is the time for it to be modernised. This column argues that current arrangements should be strengthened by signing a free trade agreement covering agriculture, services, public procurement, investment protection, dispute settlement and sustainable development.