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.
Recent and ongoing agreements to liberalize trade between the European Union (EU) and Arab countries raises the question as to how the latter will fare in a more competitive environment. This paper uses the Grubel-Lloyd intra-industry trade (IIT) index as an indicator of the degree of industrial specialization to study Arab countries' ability to compete in a more open trade setting. It concludes that whereas increased specialization has been achieved over the last decade in Arab countries, IIT remains low not only in absolute terms, but even in a cross-country comparison, when normalized for the level of development.