Policies advocating Middle East economic integration aim to bring about peace, stability, and prosperity in the Middle East, which they believe can only be sustained over the long run via regional economic cooperation.
See also: History of the Middle East
Former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said that, "Governments can create the climate for economic growth...[but] only the private sector can produce a peace that will endure."
Countries seek greater regional integration in order to:
Economic integration requires good governance, education reform, social investing, knowledge economy, market economy, privatization and freedom of press.
In 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, a leading architect of the Oslo peace plan, envisioned that:
The next stage, after bilateral and multilateral relationships have been established, will entail formation of regional industries through the cooperation of international bodies and independent international consortiums. At this point, the regional economic process will be upgraded and the new reality, in which business precedes politics, will be instituted. Ultimately, the Middle East will unite in a common market after we achieve peace. And the very existence of this common market will foster vital interests in maintaining peace over the long term.
A prerequisite to economic integration is the establishment of peace. To date, several initiatives have enabled rapprochement among former enemies:
The Oslo Peace Accords and the 1994 Israel–Jordan peace treaty have promulgated greater economic interactions between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Despite this progress, problems like the Israeli–Palestinian conflict continue to be a hindrance to peace and development. Furthermore, the instability created by the war in Afghanistan, civil wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Egypt and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq are considered negative factors to be overcome before the establishment of an economic union in this region.
Following the Israel–Jordan peace treaty in 1994 s series of Economic Summits were organised, to promote regional economic development and economic cooperation with Israel.
Following the 1997 conference, the Middle East peace process suffered a serious setback due to Benjamin Netanyahu government's policies that alienated the Arab countries (namely the refusal to work towards establishment of an independent Palestine State), which refused to discuss economic cooperation with Israel unless it made some concessions. As a result no more summits were held.
In the 1995 summit the actions agreed included:
See also: Economy of the Middle East
|Intra-regional trade, (% of total trade)||EU||CEE+CIS||Asia||Africa||Middle East||Western hemisphere|
|Average (1991–97), source: International Monetary Fund||62.1||29.6||36.8||9.0||7.1||18.3|
|Real GDP growth||2.8||3.6||4.5|
|Real GDP growth (PPP)||2.7||3.6||4.5|
|Exports (change %)||−9.5||2.6||5.2|
|Imports (change %)||1.2||4.9||6.6|
|CA (% of GDP)||−0.1||1.5||0.9|
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the Israeli–Palestinian conflict