Regional Economic Cooperation, Peace and Development - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Regional Economic Cooperation, Peace and Development

March 18,2017
Amman, Jordan

ERF 23rd Annual Conference

ERF’s Annual Conference has become the premiere regional event for economists of the Middle East, where new ideas are born, nourished and promoted, where the community of researchers meet, and where excellence is celebrated. The upcoming conference will be held in Amman, Jordan, March 18-20, 2017.


The 23rd Annual Conference provides a unique opportunity for regional researchers to interact with international peers and with each another. It also provides a venue for the presentation of multiple research papers, both in the plenary and parallel sessions, with stimulating discussions and feedback. In addition, there will be 2 special sessions. The first session will showcase the work by ERF on the research project on “The Economics of Life Course Transitions in the Middle East and North Africa”. The second is a keynote speech by Thomas Piketty on his recent book “Capital in the 21st Century”. This plenary session will also feature the launch of the Arabic version of the book, which was published by the ERF and Dar El Tanweer and translated by Wael Gamal and Salma Hussien. As always, the closing session will be devoted to celebrating the six winners of what has become a regional mark of excellence: The Best Paper Awards.



Despite the strong interdependencies between the countries of the region in terms of migrant labor and remittances, and capital flows, there are virtually no strategic region-wide or sub-regional initiatives for promoting economic cooperation between countries of the region. Regional public goods, such as supra-national economic policy institutions; regional infrastructure; and, regional peace, have been a huge bone for development in other developing regions. Unfortunately, oftentimes political differences and narrow-minded nationalism have complicated such efforts in MENA, which, to mention two examples, perhaps explain the dysfunction of the Maghreb Economic Grouping and the conflicts over rights and use of transnational water courses.
Notwithstanding the fact that virtually all the scholarship community tends to subscribe to the views regarding the importance of regional cooperation and regional public goods, including regional peace, to economic development at the country level within a region; nonetheless, there is still an active debate about these issues. For example, some might question the validity of the claim that reciprocal regional trade liberalization might be superior to unconditional unilateral trade liberation. Also, assuming that regional cooperation is important for economic development from a country-specific perspective, there remains the question of which approach is best suited for promoting and sustaining meaningful economic integration within a region and between regions. Moreover, the relationship between region-wide conflicts as a regional ‘public bad’ and regional economic cooperation needs to be better understood and better articulated to the specific regional context in question.
The three plenaries would, therefore, address three major themes. First, why regional cooperation and, especially, regional economic blocks, might be good for development? Second, how best can such regional initiatives and the associated regional public goods best be built? Third, what are the reasons behind the lackluster performance of economic cooperation and the lack of adequate regional public goods, most notably, regional peace, in MENA and the ensuing development cost to the region?



The themes of the parallel sessions are always varied enough to accommodate diverse research interests. Submissions for presentations in the parallel sessions may be made under the following areas:

  • Macroeconomics
  • Finance
  • International Economics
  • Labor and Human Development
  • Microeconomic and Sectoral studies
  • Institutional Economics/Governance



June 20, 2016: Deadline for submissions
August 29-30, 2016: Notification of selected proposals
December 15, 2016: Deadline for receiving written papers
January 19, 2017: Notification of acceptance of papers for presentation
March 17, 2017: Pre-conference activities
March 18, 2017: Conference begins
March 20, 2017: Conference ends
May 8, 2017 Revision of papers for publication in the ERF working paper series completed



For further inquiries, please contact Hoda Azmi, Conference & Logistics Manager, ERF, at 21 Al-Sad Al-Aaly Street, Dokki, Giza, Egypt. Fax (+202) 333 18 604; E-mail:

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