Roundtable Discussions

Trade in Natural Resources: A Blessing or A Curse?

Date : 9/27/2010

Speakers : Michele Ruta, The World Trade Organization (WTO)

Natural resources, including fuels, are vital to virtually every aspect of human activity, key to countries’ comparative advantage and critical to economic growth. Natural resource exports are also important to development in Egypt and other Middle Eastern economies, accounting for some 44 and 70 percent of total exports, respectively. But these exports can also contribute to the exhaustion of resources by accelerating their depletion and may be associated with price volatility; de-industrialization and environmental externalities.

This roundtable discussion reviewed the key findings of the World Trade Report 2010 “Trade in Natural Resources”. Specifically, it discussed the appropriate mix of trade and domestic policies such as export taxes and/or quotas; import restrictions; consumption taxes and subsidies that Egypt could employ to ensure a sustainable level of resource extraction that balances the competing needs of present and future generations; hedge against large swings in resource prices; protect the environment; diversify economic activity and increase the scope of Middle East intra-regional trade in natural resources.