Publication: Are Jordan and Tunisia's Exports Becoming More Technologically Sophisticated?: Analysis Using Highly Disaggregated Export Databases

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Diop, Ndiame
Ghali, Sofiane
There is a growing consensus that what you export matters for growth (see for instance, Haussman and al. 2007 and Krishna and Maloney (2011)). This paper examines whether and to what extent Jordan and Tunisia, the two most globally integrated countries of the Middle East and North Africa region, are moving up the technological ladder. To that effect, we use two highly disaggregated panel export database (products captured at the 11-digit level) and a 'product-based' methodology that allows a mapping of products classified by technological content and their sector of origin. We find that Jordan and Tunisia have experienced contrasting dynamics over the last decade. Thanks to its large exports of pharmaceutical products, Jordan enjoys a much higher share of high tech products in its export basket (11.5 percent versus 5.4 percent respectively) but this share has been declining over time due to the rapid rise of exports of textiles products. In contrast, from a very low basis, Tunisia has been catching up thanks to a slow but steady rise in medium-high tech products (electronics and mechanical components) and a corresponding decline in the preeminence of exports of textile products. Interestingly, success stories identified in both countries are all associated with the establishment of an 'enclave' where transparent 'rules of the game' are credibly enforced with the help of an external policy anchor either through international agreements (e.g. Jordan's free trade agreement with the US and the signature of and compliance with WTO's Intellectual Property Rights) or the establishment of a 'special zone/regime' such as Tunisia's 'offshore' regime and Jordan's Qualifying Industrial Zone. This finding underscores the importance of overcoming institutional weaknesses and establishing transparent and rules-based Government-business relationships as a pre-requisite for successful global integration in developing countries countries.
Diop, Ndiame; Ghali, Sofiane. 2012. Are Jordan and Tunisia's Exports Becoming More Technologically Sophisticated?: Analysis Using Highly Disaggregated Export Databases. Middle East and North Africa Working Paper Series;54. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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