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Jordan and the World Trading System: A Case Study for Arab Countries

Informazioni tesi

  Autore: Bashar Hikmet Malkawi
  Tipo: International thesis/dissertation
  Anno: 2005
  Università: American university, Washington D.C
  Corso: Washington College of Law
  Relatore: Padideh Ala’i
  Lingua: Inglese
  Num. pagine: 257

The purpose of this book is to examine the implications of the international trading system to Arab countries. Given Jordan accession to the WTO and its free trade agreement with the United States (U.S.), the country is an ideal candidate to serve as a case study for other Arab countries. Jordan applied for WTO membership in 1994. After a lengthy and costly process of negotiations, Jordan became a WTO member in 2000. Furthermore, in 2000, the U.S. and Jordan concluded a bilateral trade agreement.

My claim is that acceding to the WTO and signing a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S. is like choosing between Scylla and Charybdis, because onerous trade liberalization commitments ensue from such actions. The WTO system as an institution may not be perfect. There are deficiencies in the system. However, membership in the WTO could afford better chances compared with bilateral trade agreements like the one between the U.S. and Jordan. Membership in the WTO could help Jordan, in cooperation with other Arab countries, preserve its rights. In current bilateral trade agreements, economic hegemonies such as the U.S. dictate the rules and weave them to their advantage. In sum, I make the point that the alternative to the WTO system is bilateral trade agreements with the U.S., and they are trade agreements in which Arab countries are bound to be disadvantaged.

Historically, the study of international trade (law) in Arab countries was an obscure subject for a handful of economics specialists. This book will help pinpoint the lacunae in this kind of scholarship by cutting across many subjects, using multiple methodologies and interdisciplinary approaches, such as religion, naked economics, and law- international as well as domestic. The book will pave the way for a new scholarship that involves international trade legal economists in addition to agricultural economists, industrial economists, political economists, or econometricians. Therefore, it is hoped that this book will contribute to an understanding of the under-studied international trade law in Arab countries.

ROADMAP
The book will proceed in five chapters. Chapter I analyzes Islamic law and economics and their relevance to international trade. It discusses Islamic thought on matters such as reciprocity, taxes, subsidies, price mechanisms, and role of the state. Chapter I concludes by proving that Islamic law is inclined toward free trade. However, Islamic law sets out limitations on free trade. International trade in Islamic law is trade with what might be termed as Islamic purifier.

Chapter II explores trade patterns of Arab countries. It addresses some of the obstacles Arab countries face in acceding to the WTO. Chapter II also examines the effects of accession to the WTO on selected sectors such as agriculture and oil for Arab countries. Chapter II concludes that Arab countries are not active participants in the WTO work. Arab countries also lack effective missions in Geneva solely dedicated to the work of the WTO. Moreover, the dream of Arab regional trade agreement or common market has not come true, despite the fact that free trade once profoundly reigned in the region, and despite the fact that many Arab countries are bound together by ties of common culture, ethnicity, and language.

Chapter III addresses the status of international trade agreements into the domestic law of Jordan. It also tackles the relationship between the National Assembly, the executive branch, and the judiciary in respect of international trade, and the bodies in Jordan that have the power to enter into international agreements. It touches on the legal effects of international agreements, and the cases where international agreements prevail over domestic law. Chapter III also offers insights into Jordan’s accession to the WTO. Further, it uncovers commitments Jordan undertook in its accession to the WTO as a case study for other Arab countries. Chapter III concludes that government agency conflict in Jordan appears in the overlapping jurisdictions of the different executive authorities rather than between the executive and the National Assembly. In its accession, Jordan undertook onerous terms and conditions as a price for accession to the WTO. Jordan did not benefit from any transitional period in its accession to the WTO except in implementation of commitments on tariff reduction. Jordan met some of its WTO commitments at the time it entered the WTO. However, Jordan was committed to meet other requirements after accession over time. Many areas of implementation of the WTO agreements require heavy administrative and financial investment.

Chapter IV scrutinizes U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement including its environmental and labor provisions. Chapter IV concludes that the bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and Jordan will lead to trade dependency on the U.S. market. The approach adopted in drafting the bilateral trade agreement is a cut and paste approach in which U.S. laws were incorporated into the agreement with few changes in article, numbers or words. The entire bilateral trade agreement was an adhesion or unconscionable contract submitted by the U.S. as a fait accompli. Jordan was a “rule-taker” rather than a “rule-maker”. The parties in the trade agreement entered into asymmetrical commitments in areas such as services and intellectual property.

Chapter IV concludes that the free trade agreement between the U.S. and Jordan would have been of little value, giving the volume of trade between the parties, except for including environment and labor within the text of the agreement. The U.S. acted as demander for including labor and environment within the free trade agreement. The environmental and labor provisions of the free trade agreement represent material steps in advancing the environmental and labor agenda by linking the free trade agreement with non-trade provisions. However, these articles fall short of expectations. The trade agreement does not prohibit the parties from encouraging trade by relaxing domestic environmental and labor laws. Instead, the free trade agreement simply urges the parties not to relax their laws. Free trade agreement does not define the relationship between the trade agreement and the multilateral environmental agreements. The free trade agreement includes a scapegoat clause that allows each party not to effectively enforce its environment or labor laws on the basis of reasonable exercise of discretion or bona fide decision to allocate resources. Chapter IV concludes that environment and labor will be, as they have traditionally been viewed, secondary to trade agreements. The U.S. should not use Jordan as a pawn to advance its own agenda on environment and labor. In Islamic jurisprudence, there are historical links to trade.

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INTRODUCTION The purpose of this book is to examine the implications of the international trading system to Arab countries. Given Jordan accession to the WTO and its free trade agreement with the United States (U.S.), the country is an ideal candidate to serve as a case study for other Arab countries. Jordan applied for WTO membership in 1994. After a lengthy and costly process of negotiations, Jordan became a WTO member in 2000. Furthermore, in 2000, the U.S. and Jordan concluded a bilateral trade agreement. My claim is that acceding to the WTO and signing a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S. is like choosing between Scylla and Charybdis, because onerous trade liberalization commitments ensue from such actions. The WTO system as an institution may not be perfect. There are deficiencies in the system. However, membership in the WTO could afford better chances compared with bilateral trade agreements like the one between the U.S. and Jordan. Membership in the WTO could help Jordan, in cooperation with other Arab countries, preserve its rights. In current bilateral trade agreements, economic hegemonies such as the U.S. dictate the rules and weave them to their advantage. In sum, I make the point that the alternative to the WTO system is bilateral trade agreements with the U.S., and they are trade agreements in which Arab countries are bound to be disadvantaged. Historically, the study of international trade (law) in Arab countries was an obscure subject for a handful of economics specialists. This book will help pinpoint the lacunae in this kind of scholarship by cutting across many subjects, using multiple methodologies and interdisciplinary approaches, such as religion, naked economics, and law- international as well as domestic. The book will pave the way for a new scholarship that involves international trade legal economists in addition to agricultural economists, industrial economists, political economists, or econometricians. 1 Therefore, it is hoped that this book will contribute to an understanding of the under-studied international trade law in Arab countries. ROADMAP The book will proceed in five chapters. Chapter I analyzes Islamic law and economics and their relevance to international trade. It discusses Islamic thought on matters such as reciprocity, taxes, subsidies, price mechanisms, and role of the state. Chapter I concludes by proving that Islamic law is inclined toward free trade. However, Islamic law sets out limitations on free trade. International trade in Islamic law is trade with what might be termed as Islamic purifier. 1 No graphs, equations, or complex diagrams will be used, just plain English. See Richard C. Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers (4th ed., Academic Press 1998). Most economics texts rely far too much on algebra manipulation, complex diagrams, equations, excessive use of mathematics, and inaccessible jargon. For more see Charles Wheelan, Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science X, XVII (Norton & Company 2002). 8

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