Assessing the Impact of the EU-sponsored Trade Liberalization in the MENA Countries
The EU-sponsored Barcelona conference in 1995 set the ambitious goal of creating the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area (EUROMED) that would include the European Union and the MENA countries by 2010. The intermediate steps towards building the EUROMED have involved bilateral “vertical” trade liberalization between the EU and the particular MENA countries as well as “horizontal” trade liberalization among themselves. In this paper we evaluate empirically the effects of the new EU Association Agreements with the MENA countries using the augmented gravity equations derived from a variety of neoclassical and new trade theory models and panel data for the period 1980- 2004. We find that while these agreements increased significantly imports of the MENA countries from the EU they had no positive impact on their exports to the EU which can be attributed to the asymmetry in trade liberalization between the EU and the MENA countries.
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