The Political Economy of the “Maghreb Spring”, and its Aftermath

Transcripts (Pomed Notes)

Date and Time: April 24, 2012 – 12:30PM-2:30PM 

Location: University of California Washington Center, 1608 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036. (Dupont Circle metro)

The so-called “Arab Spring”, which should more appropriately be labeled the “Maghreb Spring” or the “North Africa Spring,” was triggered by exacerbated economic inequalities and stalled social development for large segments of the population, particularly youth, within a context characterized by the lack of basic human and political rights, rule of law deficits, and high levels of corruption and nepotism. The panel discussion will attempt a critical assessment of economic development strategies adopted in North Africa since independence, focusing on the recent past. It will introduce possible alternatives for a more balanced and equitable future course of development, and discuss reforms recently adopted in Morocco as well as those integrated in Tunisia’s “Jasmine Plan” for economic and social development.

Opening Remarks & Introduction: Nejib Ayachi, Maghreb Center President

Presentations:

>> Setting the background: Broad overview of economic policies and development strategies in the Maghreb since independence

Overview of the economic policies and development strategies adopted by North African countries since independence, drawing parallels between Morocco and Tunisia as the two most open and diversified economies in the region, as well as on Morocco’s ongoing reform process and Tunisia’s recovery plan.

Speaker:  Ahmed El-Hamri.  Development Economist with, successively since 1992, the International Economic Analysis and Prospects Dept. of the World Bank, and the MENA Department of the same institution. Dr. El-Hamri also held the position of Senior Adviser to the Executive Director group, covering Algeria – Tunisia – Morocco- Iran – Pakistan – Afghanistan and Ghana, at the World Bank. His previous work experience includes: Assistant-Professor of Economics at the University of Minnesota, and economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics – Labor Dept.  In relation to developing countries, his work and research focus on socioeconomic issues and problems associated with the implementation of broad macro-level development policies and programs, as well as sectoral strategies and infrastructural investment programs, inspired by IFO.

>>Maghreb development, globalization, and international financial organizations 

Assessment of the impact of economic orientations and policies in the Maghreb taking into account the logic of globalization and the role of international financial organizations; focus on Tunisia, often presented as a model for other Maghrebi and Arab countries, but where exacerbated socioeconomic disparities triggered the so-called “Arab Spring”.      Speaker: Robert Prince –Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver (Bio:http://www.du.edu/korbel/facultyresearch/adjunct/Prince_Rob.html

>>Post “Maghreb Spring” economic recovery?  .

Examination of the post “Maghreb Spring” state of North African economies, the reforms program adopted by Morocco, and Tunisia’s Ennahda party plan for economic recovery, taking into account the necessity of an inclusive development model, the Maghrebi and Mediterranean contexts, and the role of Europe and the United States                                                     Speaker: Francis Ghiles Senior Research Fellow at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs -leading expert on the Maghreb. (Bio: http://itca.hcp.ma/M-Francis-GHILES_a62.html  )

>>Discussants/commentators:  

. Samir Chebil Executive Director Advisor for Tunisia at the World Bank

Daniele Moro –Visiting Scholar at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University).

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