The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper provides a framework for understanding trade patterns in the Mashreq. An augmented gravity model is used to compare actual with expected levels of trade. Trade barriers, political uncertainty, and over-appreciation of domestic currencies seem to explain low levels of international trade. At the intra-regional level, specific trade barriers between Israel and other Mashreq countries reduce further levels of trade. Quite surprisingly, removing Israel from the sample leads to higher actual intra-regional trade than predicted. The analysis suggests that trade liberalization, correction of currency misalignments, reduction of political uncertainty, and improved trade relations with Israel would boost trade in the region.