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Trade and Economic Integration

Status: Completed
  • Lead Organization 

    The World Bank



    The European Union (EU), the United States, and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). Also, IPEMED (Economic Foresight Institute for the Mediterranean Region); KNOMAD (Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development); Tunisia School of Business; Mediterranean School of Business; local business unions and think tanks; trade ministries in the region with a trade and integration strategy, such as Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia with the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, and Libya with the World Trade Organization (WTO). 



    The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is among the least integrated region in the world, regionally and globally.

    The MENA region suffers from a lack of private investment and high unemployment rates, including among the young educated people.


    Program Objective

    To provide a new impulse to spur the integration of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries at the bilateral, regional, and global levels, to foster knowledge sharing among Arab policy makers and experts on trade and economic integration issues (through publications, workshops, and networks), and to help the MENA Region reap the benefits of globalization beyond oil and gas. Integrating MENA contributes to regional integration through the development of a regional platform for strengthening collective action on trade and economic integration. 


    Expected Results

    Effective results on the ground require: i) time to strengthen collective action in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), mainly by establishing a network of “champions” from various constituencies, fostering business-to-business dialogue and actions, and enhancing communication on the agenda, including with national ministries and regional institutions; ii) greater advocacy with the World Bank Group (WBG) country teams on the importance of cross-border solutions and regional integration, eventually including lending operations; and iii) stronger partnerships with private and public actors to maintain momentum on the importance of trade and economic integration to achieve higher and sustained economic growth and reduce poverty.

    • Trade and integration as a central pillar of country programs as indicated by legislative changes to facilitate trade and implementation of projects that facilitate trade across borders.
    • Deepened knowledge: A component of the integration of MENA, the New Levant Initiative organized a regional conference on economic integration on June 12, 2014, in Beirut. This conference served as platform to launch the World Bank’s regional economic integration report, Over the Horizon: A New Levant, and led to a discussion between public- and private-sector representatives on the potential for, and barriers to, deeper regional integration in goods and services trade with a focus on the financial sector, energy, transport, tourism, and ICT. The research team also participated in the Maghreb Forum of Entrepreneurs.
    • Improved network: Regional integration is reinforced by establishing a network of champions from various constituencies to foster business-to-business dialogue and actions and enhance communication among experts in trade facilitation and logistics. This network also seeks to engage with and support the Arab diaspora.
    • Change in perception through opinion polls and a media campaign on regional and global integration.


    Mariem Malouche, Senior Economist, World Bank

    Sibel Kulaksiz, Senior Economist, World Bank

    General Contact Email: