June 11, 2012

Within the framework of the project to study “economic integration among a number of Arab Mashreq countries,” five Arab research institutions joined forces in: Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine, to conduct a series of field surveys, with the aim of knowing the opinions of different social groups in those countries. It represents national (general survey), media, academic, and economic segments (from the private sector and the government sector) on the economic reality of these countries, and the bilateral cooperation relations between the countries of the Arab Mashreq. It was one of the aims of the study

1. Getting to know the opinions of the various studied segments on the current economic conditions in their countries, including identifying the most important areas of the economy, the factors affecting its progress, and the basic problems that stand in its way.

2. Follow the respondents’ views on the existing bilateral relations between their countries and the rest of the countries under study, including: social and cultural relations, official political and economic relations, dimensions of integration and competition, and obstacles to activating cooperation.

3. Standing on the opinions of the studied samples regarding the trends of integration of the countries under study within Arab and regional frameworks, including the following aspects: the level of official political and economic relations between each of the studied Arab countries, the areas of economic competition between these countries, and the level of interaction between Arab businessmen and their non-Arab counterparts. Arabs in the Middle East.

4. Knowing the attitudes of the studied samples towards the integration of the studied Arab countries within international economic frameworks, such as: the Arab-European Partnership, and the World Trade Organization.

The comparative results, with an emphasis on the exceptional specificity of the Palestinian situation due to the Israeli occupation, indicate the following general or dominant trends:

  • Giving high priority to the existing economic situation, to the contraction of the labor market and the spread of unemployment,
  • Calling for overcoming economic stagnation by encouraging private investment, supporting small projects and privatization,
  • Demanding the abolition of restrictions on the movement of capital, goods and services,
  • Fear, in Jordan and Lebanon, of the negative effects of immigrant workers from Egypt and Syria on the labor market and the local economic situation,
  • The almost unanimous emphasis on the significant negative effects of external loans,
  • Emphasizing in Jordan, and to some extent in Egypt, the negative effects of the peace treaty with Israel,
  • An almost unanimous call for strengthening bilateral political relations and enhancing Arab economic cooperation by establishing the Arab Free Economic Zone or concluding the Arab Common Market Agreement.
  • Strengthening Arab cultural and artistic cooperation and noting the broad or relative rapprochement between common customs and traditions, despite the small percentage of those who visit the other country, whether for tourism or business purposes,
  • Highlighting aspects of productive competition and economic integration in the Arab Mashreq,
  • clear and dominant trends towards openness and response to the requirements of globalization,
  • Strong positive attitude towards the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Agreement and a positive attitude towards the WTO منظمة