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Claude Berthomieu : “From liberalisation led astray to democratically organised development”




The Barcelona process signed in 1995 between the European Union and ten Mediterranean countries has resulted in failure for countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean. Claude Berthomieu, coordinator of the Femise report FEM35-12 “From two decades of liberalisation led astray towards democratically organised development”, has responded to this bitter observation made on the basis of econometric evidence. Professor of Economic Sciences at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis and President of the association CEMAFI International*, Claude Berthomieu and a team of nine Mediterranean economists have analysed the situations in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.



Claude Berthomieu, Professor of Economic Sciences at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis and President of the association CEMAFI International is the coordinator of the Femise report “From two decades of liberalisation led astray towards democratically organised development.”(Photo NBC)
Claude Berthomieu, Professor of Economic Sciences at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis and President of the association CEMAFI International is the coordinator of the Femise report “From two decades of liberalisation led astray towards democratically organised development.”(Photo NBC)
Why do you use the term “liberalisation led astray”?
 
Trade liberalisation has not fulfilled the promises of the Barcelona process. These agreements were intended to put signatory countries on a path to inclusive growth leading to full employment. The term “growth led astray” refers to Joan Robinson's notion of “bastardised growth” in line with Keynesian economics. This means that growth does not create full employment. At the time, it was envisaged that southern Mediterranean countries would be able to export more easily to Europe thanks to new opportunities. However, the trade balances of these countries have only increased their deficits since these agreements were implemented.

Growth in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt has not been enough to boost youth employment, regardless of qualifications. Every year, Tunisia trains between 65,000 and 75,000 graduates, but the production system offers fewer than 30,000 jobs. Two thirds of these young people find themselves unemployed or in unskilled work. Some are trying to leave the country.
A similar phenomenon occurred when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed between Canada, the United States and Mexico. It is American companies who have benefited from this agreement by locating to Mexico where labour costs were cheaper; 18 years after their signature, these agreements have also failed.
 


Why have the promises of the Arab Spring banked on by these people not been fulfilled?
 
Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia have suffered the consequences of the global economic crisis which hit these countries two years after Europe. Up until now, families have been supporting new graduates without jobs but the deterioration of the economic situation has led to these young people becoming prospective expatriates. However, at the same time, Europe and France especially have tightened their immigration policies. Morocco has been more resilient. The Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), which on its own generates 30% of Moroccan GDP, has opened a training school and King Mohammed VI has been able to give the population some advantages.
 
What are your recommendations for a return to growth for these countries?
 
Institutional deficiencies and inadequate economic policies put in place in the name of liberalism must be rectified fully in these three countries. For this, the State must be brought back for better “State/Market/Trade openness” coordination.

* Centre for Studies into Macroeconomics and International Finance.

Download the FEM35-12 report : From two decades of liberalisation led astray towards democratically organised development”



Nathalie Bureau du Colombier, MARSEILLE


Wednesday, November 13th 2013



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