Explaining trade policy in the Middle East and North Africa

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This paper examines the evolution of trade policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MNA) countries since the 1960s. It shows that contrary to the current popular perception, until the 1980s MNA countries were generally more open than the rest of the developing world. That situation changed in the 1980s and especially the 1990s as most MNA countries maintained their trade policies, while many other developing countries proceeded with liberalization. The paper develops and estimates a political economy model of trade policy to search for the factors behind the initial relative openness of the region and its reversal. The results show that the pattern is related to the rise and decline of the region's resource rents, which affected the political weight of domestic producers versus consumers. Other factors are also considered, but they all seem to have secondary effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)660-684
Number of pages25
JournalQuarterly Review of Economics and Finance
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Imperfect markets
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • Political economy
  • Trade policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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