Tag Archives: femise

Do emigrants self-select along cultural traits?: Evidence from the MENA countries

Migrants’ selection by cultural traits, beliefs and practices has been largely understudied in the existing literature. In an attempt to fill this gap, this paper investigates whether migration aspirations, concrete plans to emigrate, and preferred destination choices are influenced by cultural traits in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA). We use the Gallup World Poll (GWP) surveys, which document migration aspirations, cultural traits and many other characteristics of individuals. We limit our sample to 17 MENA countries where Gallup conducted at least one wave of its survey between the years 2007 and 2016.

To begin with, we show that migration aspirations are correlated with actual migration flows obtained from the OECD International Migration Database. This suggests that the patterns of migration aspirations are likely to be similar to the patterns of actual migration. The average share of aspiring migrants in our sample is around 24%. Syria exhibits the largest share with over 35%; Jordan and Algeria come next at about 30%; Niger, Azerbaijan and Chad exhibit the smallest shares at about 20%. Through cultural proximity and network effects, former colonial ties are still affecting the preferred destinations of aspiring migrants. On average, 52.3% of the aspiring migrants from the MENA would like to move to an OECD destination country. This share amounts to 90% in Morocco and Algeria, while it is around 10% in Yemen and Niger.

We conduct a two-stage Principal Component Analysis on a set of 12 opinion questions to identify four synthetic indicators of cultural traits. We find that Lebanon and Azerbaijan are the most progressive in terms of gender-egalitarian attitudes. Iran and Azerbaijan are the less religious countries; on the contrary, sub-Saharan African countries (i.e., Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Niger) exhibit the highest levels of religiosity. Iran, Afghanistan and Syria exhibit the highest levels of generosity. Four countries that experienced turmoil and riots during the Arab Spring (i.e., Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen) hardly justify the use of violence. We refer to these countries and Syria as the Main Insurgents. In these countries, a large share of the population finds it unjustifiable to use any kind of violence against civilians.

In our empirical analysis, we only consider two cultural traits that are highly correlated with economic development indicators, namely gender-egalitarian attitudes and religiosity. We conduct a set of fixed-effect logit regressions for several subsamples to identify the effect of cultural traits on migration aspirations. The full sample estimates show that aspirations to all destinations are negatively affected by the level of religiosity but are not influenced by gender-egalitarian views. When we distinguish between emigration aspirations to OECD and non-OECD member states, the results reveal that cultural traits are not significant for migration aspirations to non-OECD countries. In contrast, aspirations to migrate to an OECD destination decrease with religiosity, and increase with gender-egalitarian views. In other words, aspiring migrants to OECD destinations exhibit lower levels of religiosity than those who do not intend to migrate. Next, we check whether similar selection patterns apply to individuals who have concrete migration plans for the next 12 months. We find that the effect of religiosity is highly significant and even larger than for migration aspirations; the effect of gender-egalitarian views is insignificant.

We then conduct a large set of robustness checks. First, we split the set of OECD destinations into three subsets that are frequently reported as preferred destinations in the data, namely the European Union, North America and Turkey. The results confirm that the effect of gender-egalitarian views remains insignificant or marginally significant for all sets of destinations, while the effect of religiosity is highly significant when considering OECD, high-income destinations, but not when considering Turkey. Second, we split the sample along education levels, and show that our results are valid for all skill groups. Third, we distinguish between three age categories, gender groups and marital status. Selection by religiosity is significant for all age groups and is greater for men, while positive selection on gender-egalitarian views becomes significant for single women and for all individuals aged 15 to 30. This is the age group in which aspiring migrants are the most likely to realize their migration aspirations. Fourth, we checked whether the intensity of cultural selection varies with aggregate country characteristics such as the shares of Sunnis and Shiites among the Muslim population, the log-GDP per capita, two indicators of institutional quality, and the size of the migrant network in the OECD countries. Our regressions reveal that aspiring migrants from countries with a Sunni minority have more progressive gender-egalitarian views, which also become significant when controlling for migration networks. Seventh, we explored whether the link between cultural traits and migration has been affected by the Arab Spring. We consider the full sample of MENA countries, the Main Insurgents and the other countries. In all specifications, selection by religiosity is always positive and significant. Although the Arab Spring has not affected the intensity of cultural selection in the less affected countries, it has drastically reduced it in the Main Insurgent countries.

Methodologically speaking, we also explore whether our results are driven by differences in the composition of the samples of aspiring migrants and non-migrants. We use the Mahalanobis Metric Matching technique to construct samples of aspiring migrants and non-migrants that are balanced in terms of observable covariates. All conclusions of the benchmark regressions hold when using the matched samples.

We thus conclude that migrants from MENA to OECD exhibit lower levels of religiosity. Moreover, young male or female migrants share significantly more gender-egalitarian views than the rest of the population. Overall, the Arab Spring has increased the relative religiosity of aspiring migrants in the most affected countries. Consequently, emigration to OECD countries has direct implications on the distribution of cultural traits in the population left behind and on the cultural distance at destination. Nevertheless, the effects of cultural selection should not be overestimated. First, emigration hardly affects the distribution of cultural traits in the MENA countries. Emigration towards OECD countries could even reverse the selection effect if migrants abroad transfer more progressive norms and beliefs to their home country. Second, it has a limited (albeit non negligible) effect on the cultural distance between natives and immigrants in the OECD countries.

Call for Proposals Energies 2050 : Organization of events at COP23

The 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in Bonn, Germany, from the 6th to the 17th of November 2017 under Fijian presidency. This major event on the international agenda is an opportunity for all actors involved and at all levels to reaffirm their commitment and to launch concrete actions.

ENERGIES 2050, a FEMISE partner who also published a report on Climate Change in which FEMISE participated, is a well known and recognized player in the fight against climate change and will be present and very involved at COP23. The association has had the privilege of accompanying several African countries in the preparation of their Nationally Determined Planned Contributions (CPDN) and in the preparation of preparatory files for submission to the Green Fund for Climate. E2050 is the lead author of the Guide to Climate Change Negotiations, published by Institut de la Francophonie pour le développement durable (IFDD), a subsidiary organ of the International Organization of Francophonie (OIF) since COP20 in Lima, and will organize an international citizen art exhibition at the COP23 as part of the ART’s PLANET initiative.

Energies2050 offers you the possibility to suggest one or several events at COP23. This call for proposals should make it possible to share knowledge, demonstrate possibilities, build partnerships and leverage opportunities. If you are interested, you may click here.

Twin Deficits and the Sustainability of Macroeconomic Policies in Selected European and Mediterranean Partner Countries

Our empirical results validate the Twin Deficit hypothesis in both EU and MED samples, but with diverging findings regarding the direction of causality. While the trade balance seems to be driving the budget deficit in MED countries –thereby validating the current account targeting approach – the relationship appears to run in the opposite direction in the case of EU countries, where the budget balance appears to be driving the current account. Given the well-documented dependence of MED countries on trade with the EU and the fact that most EU countries have implemented austerity policies in the aftermath of the financial crisis – thereby restricting aggregate demand and imports – we argue that the ensuing drop in export income for MED countries has contributed to increasing the budget deficit in these countries, by virtue of the uncovered positive causality between the current account and the budget balance. One natural MED policy makers’ response would be to implement austerity measures; however, such measures which may be necessary, are socially costly in the current social context in MED countries, and would not alone permit to stabilize the budget balance given that they would leave the trade balance unaffected. Our findings thus represent a warning against such ‘ready-made’ macroeconomic policy responses and indicate that austerity policy in EU countries have unexpected consequences for fiscal stability in MED countries. We thus call for better macroeconomic policy coordination between the EU and its Southern peripheral MED countries.

A major policy issue to be faced in the coming years is whether macroeconomic policies have reached a dead end and are in a bind. With respect to the introduction of macroeconomic stabilization programs in the EU and MED countries, there is obviously no room to use both monetary and fiscal policies in tandem to curb those macroeconomic imbalances. For the MED countries of Lebanon and Jordan with very limited fiscal space and fixed exchange rates and open capital accounts, monetary policy is already ineffective in terms of macroeconomic stabilization. Egypt rendered its monetary policy more effective in dealing with external shocks after the recent smart move to a flexible exchange rate regime. Tunisia and Morocco seem to be also moving in that same direction. While fiscal space in the EU is also limited due to the past accumulation of huge public debts, the European Central Bank’s (ECB) Quantitative Easing (QE) policy remains an effective tool in preventing the EU’s unsustainable fiscal policies form developing into further debt crises similar to the Greek debt crisis.

With the current debt crisis unfolding in some EU countries, low GDP growth rates and oil prices and high debt levels in several MED countries, fiscal policy is clearly not a macroeconomic policy option anymore due to limited fiscal space. With one monetary policy conducted by the ECB and the absence of a political union, EU countries have registered over the past decade significant current account and budget deficits. Monetary Policy will remain ineffective as long as expectations of the private sector are not adjusted positively, and banks remain in poor shape, mainly Italian and Greek banks. The Greek Debt crisis is negatively affecting the behavior and expectations of businesses and consumers, and austerity measures are negatively affecting aggregate demand and the growth rate of GDP. In particular, stagnant wages and high unemployment rates are adversely affecting domestic demand, especially in the absence of fiscal space in most MED and EU countries due to the accumulation of large public debts and recurrent budget and current account deficits.

In the MED region, the ineffectiveness of monetary policy is due to the presence of fixed exchange rates and free capital movements. This boils down to no role for government policies (fiscal and monetary) to deal with the current macroeconomic imbalances paving the way for future fiscal and currency crises. Thus, the various EU and MED governments will need to: (1) reduce the public sector in favor of the private sector; (2) channel liquidity to the private sector through loans and encourage investments in productive ventures; and (3) reduce government spending and increase only supply side taxes. Finally, given the ineffectiveness of both monetary and fiscal policies, the private sector needs to take a leading role in addressing macroeconomic imbalances by first improving its expectations in both the EU and MED. This would increase the growth rate of GDP and would render debt more sustainable. Once the above is achieved, introduce austerity and structural adjustment measures. This will insure sustainable economic growth and will reduce the likelihood of a future debt and currency crisis.

How does Migration Boost Trade?

The most recent report by FEMISE members, published in April 2017, highlights the interaction between migration and the density of trade relations in the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean region. France and Egypt are the subject of a specific study attesting to the close imbrication between these two phenomena.

Selon l’étude, les réseaux d'immigrants ont pour effet d’augmenter de 10 % à 20 % les échanges commerciaux entre la France et l’Egypte (photo : F.Dubessy)

According to the study, immigrant networks have the effect of increasing trade between France and Egypt by between 10% and 20% (photo : F.Dubessy)

This is indisputable. The econometric analysis of Femise’s experts twists and turns to the conventional wisdom about the impact of migrants on the economy of host countries.
The most recent FEM41-13 report  entitled “The role of vicinity linkages in the EU-Med region for trade growth : Focus on Migration, level of education, and social integration” demonstrates the positive role of the influx of migrants on the increase in the volume of trade between the country of departure and that of destination. According to the study, networks of immigrants present a clear capacity for giving rise to new trade exchanges with estimates of effects at 10%-20% of total trade exchanges for two countries under study.

Marseille, cosmopolitan city par excellence, maintains close and historical relations with Tunis and Algiers. In Sète, the importance of the Moroccan community justifies the exploitation of maritime links with the Kingdom. Migrants duplicate their consumption habits in the host country. These overlaps stimulate economies. This is why Femise advocates an emphasis and a modulation of the commercial policy of the States with regard to their migration strategy.

The report analyzes the case of France and Egypt. Hexagon, which had 7.6 million immigrants in 2013, has always had close historical ties with neighboring Maghreb countries. Of the 220 000 annual migrants recorded in France (between 2000 and 2013), 51% come from Africa. “Exports and imports to and from countries in the MENA3 zone (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia) account for 8% of France’s total trade,” the document said.

Caution Towards Selective Migration Policies

73% des émigrés égyptiens choisissent de s’installer dans un pays arabe et 13% en Europe de l’Ouest (©ververidis/123RF )

In the case of Egypt, which has 4 million immigrants around the world, the Femise study demonstrates the beneficial effect on the trade of host countries. 73% of Egyptian emigrants choose to settle in an Arab country and 13% in Western Europe. “By choosing to settle in a western country, they seek to evolve professionally while avoiding corruption, social prejudices in Egypt,” the report states.

The co-authors Andrés Artal-Tur  and Vicente Pallardó-López, professors at the University of Valencia, and John Salevurakis and Mona Said professors at the American University of Cairo (AUC) highlight a number of variables influencing Bilateral trade relations between countries of departure and destination.

Thus, the profile of the migrant has an impact on the nature and intensity of trade. Their level of education, their professional activity, their level of language proficiency and their adaptability to the host country play a decisive role.

If the link between migration and trade is established, it seems legitimate to question the long-term impact of the rise in protectionism and the selective migration policies deployed by OECD member countries in recent months.

The full report is available to download by clicking on the link

Article produced in partnership with Econostrum

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Call for Trainees IM-FEMISE

As part of its activities, the FEMISE network is launching a Call for Candidates for the post of IM-FEMISE Trainee Economist and for a training period of 2 to 4 months.

Deadline for submission: 22 September 2017

We are looking for a trainee whose mission will be to fulfill the following tasks:

  • Data collection, national and regional
  • Synthesis and Creation of Indicators
  • Elaboration of notes and participation in the writing of chapters for the  FEMISE 2017 EUROMED report on the potential of the private sector in the Southern Mediterranean
  • Other missions / research and administrative tasks

For further information, please consult the Trainee Sheet (in french) available here.

CNR-ISSM Workshop: Inequalities in the Mediterranean

Inequalities in the Mediterranean

23rd of June, 2017
(9:30 am-4:30 pm)

National Research Council, Institute of Studies on Mediterranean Societies (CNR-ISSM), Via Guglielmo Sanfelice, 8,  I-80134 Naples

The CNR-ISSM workshop aim to stimulate the discussion on different aspects of inequalities among and within Mediterranean countries. The discussion is intended to throw light on how to promote greater economic and political integration of the Med region. The term “inequality” would include political as well as socio-economic inequalities.

The workshop intends to provide the grounds for developing new patterns of analysis and addressing policy guidelines which will be able to respond to the dramatic challenges in front of the Mediterranean regions. In a fragile and conflicting environment, in which economic and political variables are strictly interrelated and reinforce each other, a valuable and comprehensive research program requires a multidisciplinary approach that will be analysed by this workshop.

For more information, the agenda is available by clicking here.

Pierre Vimont “Each European State must participate in the effort to welcome refugees in an equitable manner”

Consultant at Carnegie Europe and French Ambassador to the European Union, Pierre Vimont was the organizer of the Valletta Summit on Migration in November 2015. This specialist in European Neighborhood Policy, Transatlantic Relations and french Foreign Policy participated in the Femise annual conference on the 29th and 30th of April 2017 in Casablanca. About a hundred Mediterranean experts delivered their analyzes on the theme of “Migration and Refugees Crisis in the EU-Med: Dawn of an era of shared responsibility? “.

Pierre Vimont est un expert de la politique européenne de voisinage, des relations transatlantiques et de la politique étrangère. ©N.B.C

Pierre Vimont is an expert in European Neighborhood Policy, Transatlantic Relations and french Foreign Policy ©NBC

Since 2010 Arab states are undergoing an unprecedented crisis. What is the state of play?

These crises gave rise to hope in both Arab and European countries. But after a while, some countries faced economic difficulties. Hope gave its place to disenchantement in Syria, Libya and Yemen. There is a real difficulty in defining the needed actions to help these countries achieve political stability, security and economic prosperity.

Immigration of refugees has fragmented the European territory. Is this issue not a danger to Europe?

The management of the refugees crisis creates a profound division within Member States. However, we must never lose hope with Europe. Solidarity, loyal cooperation among all partners, is key to the problem. Italy and Greece, given their geographical position, are making much more efforts to welcome immigrants and grant them the right to asylum. In 2016, 770,000 people benefited from the right to asylum. There are too many disparities between states. Everyone must participate in the effort to welcome refugees in an equitable manner. Nearly 450,000 reside in Germany, while France only counts 35,000.

How is France positioned?

Pierre Vimont lors de la conférence annuelle du Femise, les 29 et 30 avril 2017 à Casablanca. ©NBC

Pierre Vimont at the Femise annual conference, April 29-30 in Casablanca. ©NBC

The French effort in the field of asylum right remains much lower than in Germany. This country replenishes a demographic deficit that generates unfilled jobs. France is trying to improve its asylum system, making it more efficient for decisions to be made more rapidly. The deadlines for granting asylum are currently around one year but should be reduced by half. The french public opinion remains very reserved with regard to refugees and economic emigrants. The French authorities are quite cautious on this issue. Many believe that immigrants generate unfair competition. However, they occupy jobs that the French refuse to perform such as the collection of household garbage in large cities or the employment of seasonal workers in the agricultural field.

How can we avoid any risk of amalgation between terrorist attacks and the rise of Islamism?

Political leaders, intellectuals and elites must be pedagogical. They must explain the migratory phenomena to avoid any risk of amalgamation. To do this, one must have the courage to speak and explain the reality of what is happening on the ground. Political refugees are not illegal immigrants attracted by unscrupulous employers. They are persecuted citizens in their countries, with no alternative but to flee.


The reports of the Plenary Sessions of the FEMISE 2017 Annual conference are available by clicking here.

Interview undertaken by in partnership with Econostrum at teh FEMISE Annual Conference of 2017- Photo by Nathalie Bureau du Colombier.

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THE NEXT SOCIETY : FEMISE participates in action plan to support innovation in the Mediterranean

A successful launch, in Greece, for THE NEXT SOCIETY, a movement gathering entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, public and private innovation stakeholders in Europe and the Mediterranean.

This community took the opportunity to unveil its action plan implemented over 4 years, with the support of the European Commission. Its activities aim to accompany change in the region by placing the private sector at the core of the dialogue as well as the innovation and competitiveness  measures. THE NEXT SOCIETY echoes an inclusive philosophy based on corporate social responsibility and supports the emergence of talents and new leaders by targeting start-ups, clusters and technology transfer offices.

On the occasion of the event, co-organised by ANIMA Investment Network and Enterprise Greece on May 16th in Athens, almost a hundred Euro-Mediterranean professionals and experts exchanged views on the activities implemented by the initiative, in the presence of Greek Ministers Mr. Dimitris Papadimitriou, Minister of Economy and Development and Mr. Costas Fotakis, Alternate Minister for Research and Innovation.

According to Candace Johnson, president of EBAN (The European Trade Association for Early Stage Investors) “… the entrepreneurs of Maghreb, Middle-East and Africa are the solutions to the world’s problem”. Vladimir Rojanski, from the DG NEAR at the European Commission, underlined the importance of job creation and the development of SMEs and start-ups, as well as the European Union’s strong desire to support innovation through new financing mechanisms in the region.

THE NEXT SOCIETY activates change at every level

On May 16th in Athens, THE NEXT SOCIETY presented a comprehensive action plan supported by the European Commission, which impacts several  levels of the innovation ecosystem:

  • Improve policy frameworks: THE NEXT SOCIETY establishes a public-private dialogue and benchmarks the performance of Mediterranean innovation ecosystems in order to define and implement country strategic roadmaps and improve innovation support strategies.
  • Foster start-up success: THE NEXT SOCIETY offers tailor-made support to Mediterranean start-ups to help them go international and raise funds thanks to workshops and training sessions, immersion into foreign markets and incubation in European innovation hubs, meetings with investors and long-term coaching by committed mentors.
  • Promote and internationalise clusters: THE NEXT SOCIETY develops peer-learning services for business and industrial clusters as well as foreign partnership and guide them towards a Cluster Excellence management approach.
  • Support technology transfer offices (TTO): THE NEXT SOCIETY trains TTO managers like entrepreneurs and help them improve their services, market their innovation portfolio  and meet potential clients.

FEMISE contributing to THE NEXT SOCIETY

As presented by Dr Maryse Louis (General Manager FEMISE, Programs Manager Economic Research Forum) during the launch event in Athens, FEMISE and its affiliates Institut de la Méditerranée and Economic Research Forum will essentially contribute in the two Activities described below.

Dr Maryse Louis (General Manager FEMISE, Programs Manager Economic Research Forum) and Dr Constantin Tsakas (General Secretary FEMISE, General Manager Institut de la Méditerranée)

National Innovation and Competitiveness Monitor (NICM) : Here  in-depth analysis and assessment of existing definitions, scoreboards, benchmarks and relevant studies will take place. This will allow defining new concepts, creating a south-Med scoreboard and a national scoreboard for each country as well as preparing country specific studies on innovation and drafting policy briefs. The way the outputs of this activity will be communicated is an essential part of its success. This will be made through meetings organised throughout the projects, several workshops and conferences and through the country studies and the policy Briefs that will be prepared for each country.

Value Chain Analysis : The objective here will be to encourage enterprises (national / international) to identify and use the technological / innovative capacities of the MED countries.A General overview of sectoral development will be provided to show how the level of high tech exports change dover time by sector in each of the 7 countries. Then, FEMISE will focus on looking which products have performed best in exports, raising the question of where the new comparative advantages for each of the seven countries lie. Lastly, analysing the conditions of success stories at the firm leve will shed light on how have firms succeeded in bringing these new comparative advantages to the fore.

JOIN OR FOLLOW THE NEXT SOCIETY

Mail : welcome@thenextsociety.co

Twitter @TheNext_Society

Facebook THE NEXT SOCIETY

www.thenextsociety.co (coming soon)

 

Migration and the refugees crisis: FEMISE experts discuss the dawn of a new era

Femise 2017 Annual Conference on “Migration and Refugees’ Crisis in the EU-Med: Dawn of an Era of Shared Responsibility?”

Reports of the Plenary Sessions

First Plenary: Impact of the Refugees’ Crisis on Neighbouring Southern countries

Several millions of Syrians have fled their country since 2011 and the beginning of the war. Neighboring riparian states are the destination for the vast majority of them, with Lebanon at the forefront. What will the economic impact of this Syrian diaspora be? And will the refugees return to their country once peace is restored? These are among the questions that have been put at the beginning of this first plenary session of the FEMISE annual Conference (Casablanca, 29-30 April, 2017)

Osama Kadi, FEMISE conference 2017

Devastated by the war that began in March 2011, Syria has lost more than half of its population in only six years. Out of the country’s 25 million inhabitants on the eve of the conflict, 15 million have left the country or have been killed, imprisoned or disabled. “Almost 20,000 engineers left in the first year of the war,” said Osama Kadi, president of the Syrian Economic Task Force (SETF) in his opening statement at the first plenary session. Syrians did not choose to leave their homeland. It was the war that forced them to seek refuge in neighboring countries and cross the Mediterranean risking their lives. As a result, 50 000 people have died drowning since 2011 in makeshift boats trying to escape (presentation available here).

The country is deeply fragmented and the economy lost its capital and human resources. Living conditions are devastating: more than 85% of the remaining population live under the poverty line, most children are out of schools, life expectancy has dropped dramatically to 56 years with no easy access to health care (ratio of doctors to persons is less than is 1:4000) and more than two million houses have been destroyed. Most energy resources have been either damaged or taken over by islamist groups.

FEMISE conference 2017, Casablanca

However, Mr. Kadi sends a message of hope about post-conflict reconstruction. He argues that security, justice and reconciliation, social and economic well-being and governance and participation. Amidst huge challenges, and depending on how the conflict will be resolved, he suggested four sectors that could achieve quick returns: energy sector, agriculture and labor intensive industries. He provided some of his insights about the short and long run reforms plans, inspired by the “Marshall Plan” which reconstructed western Europe after the WWII.

Refugee status to join the formal sector

Mohamed Ali Marouani, FEMISE conference 2017

Complementing the picture, Mohamed Ali Marouani, Professor of Economics at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne highlights: “We are too focused on the humanitarian aspects and not enough on the economic stakes. In Lebanon, Syrian refugees live in poor areas characterized by high rates of unemployment. How can we improve their quality of life? If refugees fail to be part of the economy, they will remain in the informal sector and will not be able to generate trade, “analyzes Mohamed Ali Marouani, who advocated for their integration into the formal labor market during his speech about the economic impact of the Syrian crisis on the neighbouring country: Lebanon (presentation available here).

Lebanon is on the front line. Syrian refugees now represent about 30% of the Lebanese population. This is the highest rate of Syrian refugees in the world. By way of comparison, they represent only 3% of the Turkish population. The massive influx of 1.2 million Syrians considerably weighs on the Lebanese economy. The country has to face a 20% drop in its exports and an important rise in the unemployment rate. His analysis focuses on four possible impacts : first the impact of sharing border with Syria as a country in conflict (which will have huge impact on its trade and economy), second the impact of huge influx of refugees that entered Lebanon with particular need to access the labour markets, third the impact of an extreme case scenario of aid stopping and hence causing complete reliance on income generated from labour and fourth, the positive impact of increasing investment through foreign aid. His analysis showed that costs of lower trade (and tourism) in Lebanon are high given the importance of these sectors for the Lebanese economy. The flows of refugees have a negative impact on unemployment (particularly for the lowest segments of the Lebanese workforce). Global growth is higher, but if we take into account the refugees, growth per capital is lower. This is mainly due to the negative impact of the shocks on investments.

Ibrahim Ahmed ElBadawi, FEMISE conference 2017

While Turkey refuses to give Syrians refugee status, depriving them of Turkish citizenship, Egypt and Sudan have shown an exemplary attitude. “Syrians can have a job in Egypt. Their integration is a model to be studied, “suggests Ibrahim Ahmed Elbadawi, president of Femise and Managic Director of the Economic Research Forum in Cairo. “Syrians feel safe in Egypt and develop trade relations. It remains to be seen whether at the end of the war, they can return to Syria, “stresses Osama Kadi. “The heritage they enjoy in the host countries will determine their final choice. They lost everything in Syria.

Raed Safadi, FEMISE conference 2017

How can we help them regain the motivation to rebuild their country in ruins, states Raed Safadi during his presentation entitled ” Impact of the refugees on Neighbors: the Good, the Not so Good .. and the Bad “. He advocates the fact that the combined population of Jordan ,Turkey and Lebanon (neighbouring countries) is 94 mn with a GDP of $900; while the population in the EU is 500 mn with a GDP of $18.4 trillion and the population is the USA is 319 mn with a GDP of $17.4 trillion. He explains that the impact of the refugees could be a boon if they fill demographic gaps, integrate in the labour market and become productive and bring bilateral trade and investment; and they could be a burden if they strain on public and private services, cause overcrowding and increase societal strife. The impact of the Syrian conflict has caused greater macroeconomic challenges in the neighbouring countries than the influx of Syrian refugees, such as blocked export channels and destinations, tourism, regional insecurity. However, there are some on-going positive impacts of those refugees, in Turkey 26% of newly established business are Syrians. Dr. Safadi stressed the need to consider both humanitarian and development assistance (presentation available here).

Second Session: Unifying the Mediterranean vision of migration to the benefit of migration and refugees

While the first plenary session highlighted a rather disparate management of the refugee influx by host countries, the second plenary session of the Femise conference (29th of April 2017 in Casablanca) focused on finding concrete solutions to bring a Common vision. Too many divergences exist between the perception and actual management of refugees in the north and south of the Mediterranean, hindering the establishment of a solidarity chain. The phenomenon being perceived as a threat for some and an opportunity for others …

Hugo de Seabra, FEMISE conference 2017

Economic immigrants, political refugees and free movement of individuals … about 6,000 immigrants struck daily at the gates of Europe in 2015, during the crisis peak. Given the magnitude of the phenomenon, EU states were improvising by bringing an empirical response. “The welfare state has exacerbated divisions in Europe. We must build a common ground and develop an inclusive approach, “argues Hugo de Seabra of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal, at the initiative of the November 2016 Lisbon Summit on” Improving responses in Europe to the refugee crisis “.He adds that unifying a vision for Europe will require some strategic directions to: create the political will to develop a forward-looking EU Strategy towards migration; develop a coherent and fair mechanism to manage migration flows, to promote work-focused integration that strengthens social belonging and to mobilise the whole society to promote inclusivity. Each of these directions will require well-designed policies that he elaborated in his speech (presentation available here).

Harmonizing the granting of asylum in Europe

Pierre Vimont, FEMISE conference 2017

“A real substantive reflection must be carried out on burden-sharing. We must adopt a genuine immigration policy with harmonized rules, in particular on the time-limits for granting asylum between the different European countries “, suggests Pierre Vimont, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe. The refugee crisis has divided Europe, exacerbating tensions and contributing to the rise of populism. It was not until 2015 that Brussels decided to develop an immigration strategy.

Europe sought regaining control by closing its borders all the while trying to convince the countries of the south to keep immigrants on their soil in return for economic and financial support,” analyzes Pierre Vimont. He added: “Europe would like to duplicate the agreement that was reached with Turkey to Libya, something which is impossible given the political and social situation”. He suggests several lines of work: defining a rigorous policy, organizing a first stage in Africa allowing to legally enter Europe and increasing financial support to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

Nevertheless, has Europe not amplified the phenomenon? “About 70% of the 6 million Syrian refugees remained in the region. Europe has received only 1.3 million refugees. Of the 770,000 asylum-right beneficiaries in 2016, 450,000 are in Germany and 35,000 in France, “states Senén Florensa, executive president of IEMED in Barcelona.

FEMISE researchers debating, FEMISE conference 2017

Over time, since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, new roads have been opened, displaced or closed. By 2016, 55% of refugees were transiting through Greece and 45% through Italy.

A land of economic immigration, Spain ceased to be attractive when it was struck by the crisis with a saturated labor market. From a transit country, Morocco has seen its status change to become a host country. He highlights the fact that there are overlapping strategies in terms of managing Migration in the EU-Med region: from the EU-27 strategy, the 5+5 the union for the Mediterranean, the ENPI and the Euro-African conference on Migration and development which complicates the picture. He concludes by stating that from “more development for less migration” to “ better migration for more development” and that the migration policies should not be disconnected from development policies.

Third Session — What actions are still needed to Face the Refugees Crisis ?

The Syrian conflict is the most important humanitarian challenge. It marks an exodus of more than five million Syrians which settled in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The 13.5 million who chose to stay require emergency assistance. The United Nations, through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), are trying to provide concrete answers by helping people in distress. Providing immediate actions while anticipating peace, reconstruction and the return of refugees … Speakers at the last session of the Femise conference delivered their vision for the future.

Charbel Nahas, FEMISE conference 2017

At the end of the war, economists are considering several scenarios. “Civil war has irreversible effects. Should Syrian refugees be fully or partially integrated into host countries? Should we organize their repatriation? “queried Charbel Nahas, economist and former labor minister in Lebanon. Wear, weariness and even trivialization of a conflict that drags on … As the civil war in Syria enters its seventh year, aid is becoming scarce. To date, only US $ 7 million has been received out of the USD 200 million needed to build shelters and provide non-food aid.

A civil war is both demobilization and destruction of resource stocks. The Syrian population is suddenly in surplus. Its migration is a predictable effect. The balance between the population stock and the capital stock has been broken in Lebanon. Behind the complementarity or substitutability of Lebanese workers (and other residents) and Syrians lies the question of the adjustment variable: adaptation of labour, of the economy or society. Considerable choices arise: to integrate the Syrians totally, partially, with differentiated statuses, to organize their exit … In each case, it is the socio-political institutional model that must be redefined and the regional context with it. Contrary to pure economic theory, country-size matters, but in terms of relative strength ratio. The movement of goods is not equivalent to the movement of factors, especially of men and of natural resources. If there were to be a common vision, it should be clearly political. FEMISE can undoubtedly play a role. Lebanon, for its misfortune experienced civil war and reconstruction before Syria. The Lebanese experience, because it presents a case of extreme adaptation, must imperatively be taken into account.

Sophie Nennemacher, FEMISE conference 2017

“During the New York summit in September 2016, countries made concrete financial commitments to support countries in crisis. By 2018, member States also pledged to adopt a global pact for safe, orderly and regular migration. However, this summit was a failure. We are witnesing financial disinterest among States in mobilizing funds for refugees. Thus, UNHCR is launching a new appeal and is trying to re-incite countries to support refugees, “says Sophie Nennemacher, IOM’s regional migration policy officer. She also adds that greater coherence between humanitarian action and development planning to build a resilience community is required (presentation available here).

However, texts protecting migrants in situations of vulnerability do exist. “The United Nations convention on migrants has been scarcely ratified because it gives migrants a lot of rights,” says the migration expert. She describes the vulnerability of the refugees whom routinely fit the decision of a population “left behind”. She provides some details about the efforts of the IOM on this front and their “displacement Tracking matrix” to follow up on the movements of the displaced.

Following the summits of New York and Malta, Kampala will be hosting a summit organized by the African Union in mid-May.

Post-war scenarios

At the end of September, governments, civil society representatives and the private sector will also meet in Cairo to try to reach a consensus and move forward on this issue. “States are called upon to put forward their ideas in order to defend the cause of migrants, to combat human trafficking, to open up legal channels for immigration and to establish lines of cooperation”, adds Sophie Nennemacher. The IOM representative pointed out that tools to monitor migrants’ movements and to assess the needs of populations (refugee camp management, social and psychosocial assistance) do in fact exist. The expert also recalled the multiplier effect of aid on consumption and its stimulating effect on the economy.

Philippe Poinsot, UN coordinator and UNDP representative in Morocco, cites the example of the Shereefian kingdom: “Hospitality is deeply rooted in the Muslim world. Refugees enjoy the same rights as Moroccans “.

For a photo album of the Conference, please click here

Debates, FEMISE Conference 2017, Casablanca

From left to right: Constantin Tsakas, Jala Youssef, Ibrahim ElBadawi, Patricia Augier, Maryse Louis

flag_yellow_highThis event received financial support from the European Union through the FEMISE project on “Support to Economic Research, studies and dialogues of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership”. Any views expressed in this seminar are the sole responsibility of the speakers.

The profile of export-oriented firms

The productivity of factors of production, and in particular the professional qualifications of employees, determine a firms’ international performance (photo : F.Dubessy)

What factors determine a firm’s ability to export? To answer this question, Femise experts carried out a comparative study between firms located in the European Union, Israel, Turkey and those in the MENA region (Middle East, North Africa). It seems that while productivity, R & D and size are a common denominator, other criteria may underlie the ability of firms to export to MENA countries. In the North and South of the Mediterranean, impediments and accelerators tend to differ.
In studying the factors that determine the ability of firms to export, the comparative study carried out by Femise in 2016 proves to be rich. Entitled “The determinants of export performance of firms in selected MENA countries”, it examines eight countries: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and West Bank & Gaza.
The productivity of factors of production, and in particular the professional qualifications of employees, determine a firms’ international performance. But, in the Middle East and Maghreb, productivity plays a lesser role than in Europe.
In addition, there are other factors that come into play related to the location of the head office. “In Tunisia and Morocco, newly created companies do not export. Tunisian start-ups with foreign capital are integrated into the international production chain. Traditional firms founded before the transition remained oriented towards the domestic market, “highlighted Alfred Tovias, professor of international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Jan Michalek, professor of economics at the University of Warsaw. In February 2016, the authors of the Femise report had presented the preliminary results of their work at the Femise annual conference in Athens (February 14th).

Western startups are export-oriented

For firms based in the MENA region, seniority, experience and know-how weigh-in on their ability to export. This is not the case for European companies however, which are able to position themselves internationally from the very first months of their creation. In recent years, Western companies have become aware of the strategic role played by demand for foreign markets, the cornerstone of their development.

Conversely, the technological level and the volume of foreign licenses acquired, are factors that influence the export capacity of European companies.

Femise also notes an inherent specificity of SMEs in the MENA region: “Indirect exporters may be less effective in terms of labour productivity, less innovative and more modest than those that export directly,” the report notes.

Moreover, the more MENA firms develop a wide range of products, the more they tend to export. On the other hand, there is no correlation between the nature of private or public capital, and its propensity to export on both shores of the Mediterranean.

Femise conomists encourage authorities of the southern Mediterranean countries to invest in human capital, modernize their education systems and support firms in their research and development efforts. The Femise report also highlights the need for eastern countries to further attract foreign direct investment.

The report is available for download by clicking here.

Article produced in partnership with Econostrum.