Structural Impediments to Economic Globalization in the Middle East
September 1, 2004Middle East Policy Council
By Mehran Kamrava
There has been a basic tension between the stated objectives of Middle Eastern leaders to integrate their countries into the world economy, on the one hand, and the actual, tangible levels of this integration, on the other. Consequently, the non-democratic states of the Middle East have consistently lagged behind in such globalization indices as foreign direct investment (FDI), competitiveness, market growth and integration into international markets. Broadly, there are indigenous as well as exogenous factors responsible for the limited nature of economic globalization in the Middle East. While a number of recent studies have examined the outside factors prompting international investors to be leery of these states, the internal barriers to globalization have remained largely unexplored. This article analyzes these internal impediments, arguing that the pervasiveness of authoritarian practices and political structures in the Middle East and North Africa significantly undermines prospects for greater levels of international economic integration.
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