International Conference on

The Arab Countries and the World Trade Organisation: Economic and Social Impact and the Prospects for Inter-Arab Co-operation
An international conference

Exeter 23-25 September 2002

Motivation and objective:

The emergence of the new international trade system is a particular watershed for the Arab countries.  Not only have most Arab states either joined or are negotiating membership of the WTO, but their new commitments coincides with radical reorientations in their economic strategies.  The Arab countries are attempting to broaden their engagement in international trade in a manner that has implications for their economic structures and that may involve considerable financial exposure and possible social upheaval.

In many cases, the changes are taking effect as the countries concerned are also bearing burdens of earlier distortions in their production, trade and finances.   This simultaneous concurrence gives added importance to the study of the effects of the WTO and of the growing range of commitments entered into by member states.  The Arab states need to develop their policy options and policy-making capacities, and new wide-ranging research is indispensable for this purpose.

The conference aims to promote research and encourage exchanges between practitioners, policymakers and academics with a focus on the direct impact of WTO upon its Arab members as well as the significance of the new international trading environment for those countries that remain outside the WTO framework.  The conference also aims to emphasise the ever growing range of issues of economic management and policy that are associated with trade and the WTO.

It is therefore intended that the conference should provide an open forum to present studies and research on a wide range of WTO related topics of concern.

There should be a maximum of around 20 papers to be invited from interested professionals and academics, reflecting a range of topics, regional issues and individual country experiences.  The papers would probably be diverse in terms of coverage and methodologies, but it is expected that the discussions would provide a synthesis.

Within the broad theme of the conference, the topics set out below offer only general guidelines for the range that can be included.   Paper participants should not feel either limited to the topics mentioned, or constrained to cover particular aspects in the manner outlined.  Papers on other topics within the broad theme of the conference will be welcome.

Possible Topics

The experiences of individual Arab countries in liberalising foreign trade: macro and/or sectoral perspectives

Intra-Arab trade agreements and the WTO: short-term policies or long-term strategies

The WTO and the problems of Economic Development and of debt and external finance in Arab countries

The Arab countries in WTO negotiations, topics may include:
- Oil and energy in the WTO
- Future Negotiations on Services and Agriculture
- Outcome of the Doha Ministerial Meeting - Issues for the Arab Countries
- Differential treatments of developing countries and Arab country experiences

Problems and issues for the Arab countries:
        - Regional policies and economic performance under the WTO
- The implications of WTO membership for economic diversification in the Arab countries
- Ownership structure of firms, FDI and SME: The implications of WTO membership
- The question of intellectual property rights and technology transfer
- The employment impact of WTO accession

Contributions on the political economy of trade may also be incorporated, so as to cover:
- The emergence of different patterns of trade and diversity of interests and perspectives within the Arab region
- The economics and politics of trade and economic co-operation among Arab countries and the challenge of Arab economic integration


All invited participants will be scholars and specialists who have made significant contributions in a relevant field.  Abstracts (up to 500 words) are required as soon as possible.  Please send to:

Dr Kamil Mahdi
Email: [log in to unmask]   Fax: (44 1392) 264035
Tel: (44 1392) 264029

Postal Address:
Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
University of Exeter,
Stocker Road,
Exeter EX4 4ND, UK.

Travel and Arrangements

The Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies, University of Exeter will provide accommodation and hospitality to paper presenters in Exeter for the duration of the conference.  There is a limited travel fund which will be disbursed in accordance with University of Exeter regulations.  Please indicate any need for travel support.

General Information:
For two decades, the University of Exeter has regularly convened conferences on topics related to contemporary Arab studies, particularly on development and political economy issues.

Dr Kamil Mahdi
Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
University of Exeter
Exeter EX4 4ND
Tel: (44 1392) 264029
Fax: (44 1392) 264035

Secretary of IAIS tel.: -44-(0)1392-264036
Visit the IAIS website at