Varieties of protectionism:
Ethnic politics and resistance to neoliberalism in the arab world
The Arab world remains one of the most protected regions in the global economy. This book project examines how Arab regimes navigate international and domestic pressures to liberalize their markets. Drawing upon a range of cases, methods and data, it argues that ethnic relations between public and private sector elites influence patterns of trade policy reform in the region. When and where public and private sector elites belong to the same ethnic group, their shared ethnic ties facilitate the removal of protectionist policies by ensuring that favoritist benefits will compensate elites disadvantaged by lower trade barriers. When and where public and private sector elites belong to different ethnic groups, however, they lack coethnic trust and sanctioning mechanisms that cross public and private sector lines to ensure that favoritist benefits will replace protectionist policies. Rulers confront greater elite resistance to reform in these environments. Ethnic boundaries between public and private sector elites shape strategies of coalition maintenance and obstruct trade policy reform in the Arab world and beyond.