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The Potential of Regional Integration Agreements (RIAs) in Enhancing the Credibility of Reform: The Case of the Syrian-European Association Agreement

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  • Anja Zorob

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    (GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies)

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    Abstract

    The effect of ‘locking-in’ economic reform and enhancing its credibility is generally regarded as one of the most important potential effects of regional integration. Based on a detailed review of the theoretical debate, this paper develops a general framework for assessment to evaluate the ability of RIAs to serve as effective mechanisms for ‘commitment’ and ‘signalling’. In the second part, this assessment framework is applied to the case of the Syrian-European Association Agreement (AA). Syria initialled an AA with the European Union in October 2004, but two and a half years later, this agreement is still pending formal signature. The empirical findings of this study show that despite several shortcomings, the Syrian-European AA, if it were to come into force, should be able to deliver an appropriate mechanism for signalling and commitment and thus to improve the credibility of the Syrian process of reform at home and abroad. A major loophole of the agreement, however, is represented by its lack of incentives to increase the ‘rewards for good policy’.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies in its series GIGA Working Paper Series with number 51.

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    Length: 36 pages
    Date of creation: May 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:51

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    Keywords: Regional integration; Credibility; Commitment; Signalling; European Mediterranean Partnership; Syria;

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    1. Henri C. Ghesquière, 1998. "Impact of European Union Association Agreementson Mediterranean Countries," IMF Working Papers, International Monetary Fund 98/116, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Alfred Tovias & Mehmet Ugur, 2004. "Can the EU Anchor Policy Reform in Third Countries?," European Union Politics, , , vol. 5(4), pages 395-418, December.
    3. Schiff, Maurice & Winters, L Alan, 1998. "Regional Integration as Diplomacy," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, World Bank Group, vol. 12(2), pages 271-95, May.
    4. International Monetary Fund, 2006. "Syrian Arab Republic," IMF Staff Country Reports, International Monetary Fund 06/295, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Maurice Schiff & L. Alan Winters, 2003. "Regional Integration and Development," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15172, August.
    6. Fernandez, Raquel & Portes, Jonathan, 1998. "Returns to Regionalism: An Analysis of Nontraditional Gains from Regional Trade Agreements," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, World Bank Group, vol. 12(2), pages 197-220, May.
    7. Giandomenico Majone, 2001. "Nonmajoritarian Institutions and the Limits of Democratic Governance: A Political Transaction-Cost Approach," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 157(1), pages 57-, March.
    8. Robert Z. Lawrence & Ahmed Galal, 2005. "Anchoring Reform with a US-Egypt Free Trade Agreement," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa74, July.
    9. Dani Rodrik, 1989. "Credibility of Trade Reform — a Policy Maker's Guide," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 1-16, 03.
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