|There's a more practical way|
The idea of setting up a free trade zone between Gaza and Egypt seems almost too sensible to ever happen in the contorted logic of the Middle East. Development in the Gaza Strip is hampered most immediately by political restrictions, but also from being pegged to the macro economy of Israel, influencing everything from currency valuation to utility, commodity and consumer product prices that are measured against an industrialized market instead of a developing one. Still, Gaza receives hundreds of millions of dollars annually in funds from international donors, and increasingly from Gulf countries, fueling a mini-boom in an area with a well-educated and young population.
Meanwhile, bordering Gaza is northern Sinai, Egypt’s most restless and most neglected region, encumbered by tribalism, a lack of investment and prioritizing of security over economics. Yet it has massive potential, attributable to its location and the country’s relatively low cost structure. Common sense would suggest the flow of goods and services would adjust for this imbalance, and partly it has, with more than half a billion dollars said to transfer between Egypt and Gaza annually, but only through illegal, underground tunnels.
|Gaza City...if only in north Sinai|
Whatever the merits of the concerns, Morsi should be seriously considering the facilitation of trade with Gaza, and beyond, to boost development in Sinai. The fact that he is not -- whether because he does not want to or cannot -- speaks to his limits, and more generally to those of post-“revolution” Egypt.