flowers growing near mosque Poritsky via Flickr

Economische groei na de Arabische lente

CAMBRIDGE – Vijf jaar nadat de opstanden van de Arabische lente begonnen hebben Egypte, Jordanië, Marokko, en Tunesië redelijke niveaus van politieke stabiliteit bereikt. Toch blijft de economische groei lauw, en het Internationale Monetaire Fonds verwacht niet dat de snelheid van de groei dit jaar boven de 1,5% per capita uit zal komen. Gegeven het grote inhaalpotentieel van de regio en de jonge beroepsbevolking moet je je afvragen waarom dit het geval is.

Eén voor de hand liggende uitleg is dat ondanks aanzienlijke vooruitgang in het bouwen van stabiele regeringen, deze landen onderwerp blijven van politieke risico’s die private investeerders afschrikken. Maar voor de opstanden in 2011, toen deze risico’s ook al groot waren, waren de investering ook al bescheiden. Er moet hier dus meer aan de hand zijn.

Een blik op de recente economische geschiedenis van deze landen biedt inzicht in dit probleem. Markteconomieën zijn voor het Midden-Oosten en Noord-Afrika nog relatief nieuw en zijn pas opgekomen na de jaren tachtig toen het model van staatsgestuurde economische groei in elkaar stortte onder het gewicht van zijn inefficiency (en de hier uit voortkomende schulden). In tegenstelling tot Zuid-Amerika of Oost-Europa echter liberaliseerden de Arabische landen hun economieën zonder hun politiek te liberaliseren. De autocraten bleven, gesteund door westerse machten, stevig aan het roer.

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