Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Arab Free Traders

Remember, shortly after Saddam had been toppled, when Bush proposed extending free-trade benefits to Arab countries?

President Bush linked Middle East peacemaking with a need for economic advancement on Friday, offering to extend U.S. free-trade benefits already enjoyed by Israel and Jordan to other nations in the region within a decade.

"The Arab world has a great cultural tradition but is largely missing out on the economic progress of our time," Bush told graduates at the University of South Carolina commencement.
They're starting to agree:
The Free Trade Agreement with the US is in the best interest of Bahrain, new Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro told businessmen yesterday.

He urged businessmen to contact their counterparts in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries and talk to them about the importance of this agreement not just for Bahrain but the region as a whole.
And, as noted here before, this can lead to a class of independent decision makers, just the thing for running a democracy:
Because with that liberalization, you also get a managerial class, people who are used to gathering reliable information, making decisions, following or bucking trends as needed. In other words, a class of people who are used to thinking for themselves and who can spread that habit to others.
It's as true in Arab lands as anywhere else.