Why a Free Trade Deal Won’t Solve the Levant’s Economic Problems

Workers pack Lebanese fruits for export from Lebanon to the Gulf and other Arab countries, at a warehouse in Bar Elias town, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Oct. 31, 2018 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).
Workers pack Lebanese fruits for export from Lebanon to the Gulf and other Arab countries, at a warehouse in Bar Elias town, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Oct. 31, 2018 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

Recent signs of increased economic cooperation in the Levant, especially among Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, are sparking hope that past failed efforts to establish a regional free trade agreement may soon be revived. A bilateral trade deal between Jordan and Iraq signed in February, as well as a trilateral leaders’ summit held in Egypt earlier this year, suggest that these countries are looking to diversify their economic portfolios, deepen regional cooperation and get a leg up on post-ISIS reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Syria. However, a number of obstacles remain before these recent developments could conceivably catalyze the resurrection of […]

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