How Can Special Economic Zones Lead to Growth and Integration in North Africa?


9:00 am June 2019


3:30 pm June 2019

By invitation

Policy Center for the New South, Rabat

North Africa, also referred to as the Maghreb region, has enormous economic potential with remarkable natural resources and industrial production capacities. Nevertheless, the region remains among the least integrated in the world, and lacks cross-country cooperation. This hampers overall development, causes high unemployment, and exposes countries to price volatility. Given these challenges, one economic and business tool that could help generate growth and encourage regional integration is the Special Economic Zone (SEZ). SEZs come in various forms, but are generally understood as geographically limited areas with some form of dedicated infrastructure, transparent incentives, and business-friendly regulations. SEZs are often used as a proving ground for reforms that can then be spread to the broader economy, and so generate greater employment, exports, foreign direct investment (FDI) and other benefits. SEZs can help upgrade the structure of national and regional economies.

This workshop, organized by the Regional Program South Mediterranean of the Konrad- Adenauer-Stiftung in collaboration with the EastWest Institute and the Policy Center for the New South, will investigate how SEZs can make greater contributions to national and regional economic development. It will ask how the Maghreb region can learn from its own SEZ experiences, those of the wider MENA region, and global good practice. It will consider what types of SEZs are most suited to the Maghreb, and what policy and investment actions can be taken to realize their potential? It will bring together distinguished experts and practitioners from the Maghreb countries, the Middle East, and international institutions with the aim of developing policy recommendations, identifying practical and actionable SEZ approaches, and proposing potential SEZ projects suited to the Maghreb context. The event will take place in Rabat, Morocco, and include an on-the-ground visit to the Tangier Free Zone. It will lead to a Policy Brief covering the actual and potential role of SEZs in the Maghreb Region, policy recommendations and suggested next steps. 




Day 1: Thursday, 20 June 2019

09:00 – 09:15

09:15 - 09:45

Welcome & Introduction 

Dr. Karim El Aynaoui, President, Policy Center for the New South

Dr. Canan Atilgan, Director, Regional Program South Mediterranean, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Tunisia

Kawa Hassan, Vice President, Middle East & North Africa Program EastWest Institute, Belgium

09:45- 10:45

Panel 1: Understanding and Unpacking Special Economic Zones for North Africa

Mapping the main conditions and features of SEZs provides the conceptual basis for the implementation of SEZs into the Maghreb Framework.


Mounir Benyahya, Director of Industrial parks, Chambre Française de Commerce et d'Industrie du Maroc.



Larabi Jaidi, Senior Fellow, Policy Center for the New South, Morocco

Dr. Carl Aaron, International Investment and Development Advisor, formerly at the UK North Joint Unit, UK

10:45 - 11:15 Coffee Break 
11:15 - 13:00

Panel 2: Regional Good Practices and Lessons Learned from the Middle East

Diverse forms of SEZs in the Middle East provide insightful and practical lessons for North Africa. SEZs in the UAE and Qatar provide lessons in successful zone management, and examples from Jordan and Egypt can provide insights on incorporating labor force considerations as well as appropriate legal frameworks in the set-up of SEZs


Adel Hamaizia, Committee Vice Chairman, Oxford Gulf & Arabian Peninsula Studie Forum, St Antony's College, University of Oxford, UK



Loay Y. El-Shawarby, Investor, Lawyer and Expert on SEZs, Egypt

Mukhallad Omari, Managing Partner, The Specialists for Development and Financial Consulting, Jordan

Yousuf Hamed Al Balushi, Economist, Oman 2040 Vision Office, member, Technical Committee of Economic and Free Zones, Oman

13:00 - 14:00 Lunch
14:00- 16:30

Panel 3: How Can Special Economic Zones Contribute to Growth and Integration?

Practicable and actionable policy recommendations for moving forward in mapping out potential SEZ contributiuons to North Africa. What Kind of SEZs would be most useful, relevant and needed for North Africa?


Mohammed El-Hachimi, Senior Research Fellow, Centre d'Etudes et Recherches en Sciences Sociales (CERSS), Professor, Chouaib Doukkali University, Morocco



H.E Hedi Larbi, Former Minister of Infrastructure and Sustainable Development, Tunisia

H.E Ali Benouari, Former Minister of Treasury, President Ecofinance, Algeria 

Fathallah Oualalou, Senior Fellow, Policy Center for the New South

Ehad Abdulgader, Director, PetroGas Libya, Libya

Jean-Paul Gauthier, Secretary-General, World Economic Processing Zones Association, UK

Day 2: Friday, 21 June 2019

The following program will take place in Tangier 

11:15 - 12:15 Tangier Free Zone: Industrial platform presentation
13:30 - 15:30

Panel 4: The Case of Tangier Free Zone


Alfredo Da Gama e Abreu Valladão, Senior Visiting Fellow, Policy Center for the New South



Larabi Jaidi, Senior fellow, Policy Center for the New South

Ghazi el Biche, CEO Van Laack, Tunisia

Jaafar Mgharbi, General Director, Tangier Free Zone

Karim El Aynaoui
Executive President
Karim El Aynaoui is Executive President of the Policy Center for the New South. He is also Executive Vice-President of Mohammed VI Polytechnic University and Dean of its Humanities, Economics and Social Sciences Cluster. Karim El Aynaoui is an economist. From 2005 to 2012, he worked at the Central Bank of Morocco where he held the position of Director of Economics, Statistics, and International Relations. At the Central Bank of Morocco, he was in charge of the Research Department and equally a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. Previously, he worked for eight years at the World Bank as an Economist for its regional units of the Middle East and North Africa and Africa. Karim El Aynaoui has published books and journal articles on macroeconomic issues in developing countries. Hi ...
Larabi Jaïdi
Senior Fellow
Larabi Jaïdi is a Senior Fellow at the Policy Center for the New South and an Affiliate Professor at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University. His areas of expertise include international economy, economic policies, international economic relations, regional economies, social development, international relations, and Mediterranean studies. He also served on the Special Commission on the New Development Model of Morocco, a consultative body created in November 2019 to formulate the country's new developmental guidelines. Jaïdi is a former Professor at Mohamed V University in Rabat-Agdal and a founding member of both the Centre Marocain de Conjoncture and the Groupement d’Etudes et de Recherches sur la Méditerranée.   Prof. Jaïdi previously served as Advisor to the Prime Minister an ...
Alfredo Da Gama e Abreu Valladão
Senior Fellow
Alfredo G. A. Valladão is Senior Fellow at Policy Center for the New South and Professor at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) of Sciences Po Paris, who focuses on international affairs, geopolitics, global economics, Brazil and Latin America. Alongside these positions, he is President of the Advisory Board at EU-Brazil association in Brussels, Member International Advisory Board of CEBRI (Brazilian Center for International Relations – Rio de Janeiro), Member of the Comité des Rencontres Internationales de Genève (RIG), Director of the Latin America Research Chair at CESEM-HEM in Morocco and a columnist for Radio France Internationale (RFI). Former member of the Board of Trustees of UNITAR (2009-1015), and former Director of the Mercosur Chair of Sciences Po (199 ...
Fathallah Oualalou
Senior Fellow
Fathallah Oualalou is an economist, Senior Fellow at the Policy Center for the New South.  He obtained his PhD in economics from the University of Paris in 1968. Prior to joining the Policy Center for the New South, he served as a professor at Mohammed V University in Rabat and other higher education institutions in Morocco, and as an associate professor at several foreign universities. He is the author of numerous books and articles in the fields of economic theory, financial economics, international economic relations, the economies of Maghreb countries, the Arab world, and the Euro-Mediterranean area. In addition, he was the president of the Association of Moroccan Economists at the Union of Arab Economists. His political activism began with the creation, in the 1960s, of ...