Competition regulations and policies are crucial in consolidating growth strategies on both national and regional levels. A pure competitive economy is necessary to improve business climate and boost consumer welfare. Competitive markets are key determinant to attract investments, develop productive capacities, boost exports, and create jobs. Competition legislation takes the form of anti-trust legislation, anti-dominance and monopolization laws, cartels and anti-competitive agreements, and competition enforcement practices. In addition to rules and regulations ensuring better competition on domestic markets, specific provisions are increasing integrate in trade preference arrangements. The corresponding provisions are essential in levelling the playing field and ensuring that both foreign and domestic investors can access local markets in equal conditions both for production and commercial activities. The ultimate goal of competition policies is to ensure the better access to equipment, inputs, semi and finished products. At the same time, strengthening competition policies are crucial to enhance regional trade agreements through better coordination of macroeconomic and sectoral policies that affect competition between trade partners.
ESCWA completed a study to examine the state of competition provisions in force in regional and preferential trade agreements (PTAs and RIAs) involving Arab countries and assess the alignment of these provisions with national competition policies. The study also measured the level of market power in selected sectors and countries in the region with the aims to show the impact of current practices in the region.
The objective of this expert group meeting is to review the findings for the study and ultimately contribute to the current debate on modernizing Arab trade integration schemas ,both among Arab countries and with the rest of the world, through the inclusion of specific provisions on competition that will reinforce the recent development in national legislation on competition in the region. The report uses evidence based and quantitative analysis using econometric models in the Arab region to advocate for the reinforcing relationship between trade and competition policies and how together they impact trade and regional integration in the Arab region.