The decision to liberalise trade in Morocco and Tunisia has radically changed the image and status of these two countries. For a long time considered poorly from an economic point of view, today these countries are pulling themselves up the ranks of numerous international classification systems. We thus regularly find them in a better position than other Mediterranean countries, notably those in the south of Europe.
Is this recognition translated into the labour market? Three researchers have addressed this question, under the auspices of the Forum Euroméditerranéen des Instituts de Sciences Economiques (FEMISE). In a report (FEM31-21R ) entitled “Impact of market liberalisation on the labour market, productivity and revenue: a comparative study of Morocco and Tunisia”, these researchers compared economic modelling theories with econometric approaches.
The ability to create employ has improved overall
Their aim is to determine whether trade liberalisation has had positive effects upon employment in the two countries. The results of the research conducted by Ahmed Laaboudi, from the Mohamed V University in Rabat, Morocco, M’hammed Tahraoui from the INSEA in Rabat and Jamal Bouoiyour from the University of Pau in France, are not conclusive.
The process of opening the markets in Morocco and in Tunisia began in the 1980s and continues to this day.
Developments are still expected, thanks to partnership agreements signed with the European Union. These involve the eventual dismantling of borders, starting with the industrial sector then broadening out towards agriculture and the service sector. The authors agree that the ability to create employment has improved overall, thanks to this opening of the markets, which they consider to be a positive factor. However they also consider this to be insufficient, given the effort invested and the needs observed.
They note, for example, strong disparities, both from the angle of the economic sectors, but also in terms of individuals’ qualifications. Indeed, it appears that, principally in Morocco, qualified staff or graduates have done well for themselves, while for workers without qualifications the situation has not changed that much.
In Tunisia, despite glowing reports from the country given by the World Economic Forum, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the authors bemoan the unemployment rate of 68% for law graduates (after four years of university study) and 70% for qualified technicians in the food industries. This situation reflects Tunisia’s position as an “export platform” to countries in the North, “with no real technology transfer”.
Finally in terms of employees, while the trend is towards their promotion, the gap is increasing between qualified and non-qualified staff: “management staff salaries have progressed at a rhythm which is equivalent to double that of the average salary of all staff”.
The FEM31-21R report is available on the FEMISE website.
Photo by NBC, Econostrum.
Article by Nathalie Bureau du Colombier, from the website Econostrum. It belongs to a series of articles that will be published in the context of the partnership between Econostrum and Femise for the year 2010. These articles will also feed the “Mediterranean Reflection” part of the Econostrum Website. You can find this topic and all information at the following address: www.econostrum.info. Registration for the Econostrum newsletter is available here:http://www.econostrum.info/subscription/