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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


  • Anja Zorob

    () (GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies)


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’.

Suggested Citation

  • Anja Zorob, 2007. "The Potential of Regional Integration Agreements (RIAs) in Enhancing the Credibility of Reform: The Case of the Syrian-European Association Agreement," GIGA Working Paper Series 51, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:51

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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, number pa74.
    2. Schiff, Maurice & Winters, L Alan, 1998. "Regional Integration as Diplomacy," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 12(2), pages 271-295, May.
    3. Henri C. Ghesquière, 1998. "Impact of European Union Assocation Agreements on Mediterranean Countries," IMF Working Papers 98/116, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Fernandez, Raquel & Portes, Jonathan, 1998. "Returns to Regionalism: An Analysis of Nontraditional Gains from Regional Trade Agreements," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 12(2), pages 197-220, May.
    5. International Monetary Fund, 2006. "Syrian Arab Republic; Selected Issues," IMF Staff Country Reports 06/295, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Dani Rodrik, 1989. "Credibility of Trade Reform — a Policy Maker's Guide," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 1-16, March.
    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, vol. 157(1), pages 1-57, March.
    8. Maurice Schiff & L. Alan Winters, 2003. "Regional Integration and Development," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15172.
    9. Alfred Tovias & Mehmet Ugur, 2004. "Can the EU Anchor Policy Reform in Third Countries?," European Union Politics, , vol. 5(4), pages 395-418, December.
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    More about this item


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

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration

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