Figures from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) of 1987 on the geographical share of intra-Arab trade in its member countries and each country illustrate this bilateral importance through multilateral agreements in the organization of intra-Arab trade. ESCWA found that most of the trade was limited to the first three trading partners. At the region-wide level, 58 per cent of the share of export trade was involved with the largest trading partner, 72 per cent the first and second partners and 81 per cent of the first three partners. On the import side, the shares were 58 per cent for the first partner and 75 per cent and 83 per cent respectively for the first two and the first three. At the member level, the share of intra-Arab exports of the top three partners in six countries exceeded 80%, namely Bahrain, Egypt, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates, 90% in Iraq and 100% in two countries (at the time), the Arab Republic of Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Yemen. On the import side, the share of the top three partners in five countries, Namely Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and the United Arab Emirates, was over 80% and more than 90% in Bahrain and Oman. Differences in economic development in Arab countries represented the risk that a country or a limited number of countries would realize the lion`s share of profits at the expense of less developed countries. This concern and the lack of a compensation mechanism to help disadvantaged countries adapt to the results of integration have led most Arab countries not to engage in decisions to liberalise intra-Arab trade. Finally, two points must be stressed: first, the importance of intra-Sabian trade becomes more evident when oil and its by-products are excluded. Arab markets are the natural and fundamental export opportunities of a number of countries in the region, such as Lebanon and Jordan, for industrial and agricultural raw materials. Their exports to Arab countries, particularly to West Asia, account for a high percentage of their total exports. These trends show that the importance of intra-Sabian trade in all trade, either from the point of view of exports or imports, was largely insignificant.
Table 2 summarizes the shares of Arab trade distributed by some regional trading blocs, which are the main Arab trading partners. In addition, Appendix 2 provides detailed adherence to regional trading blocs grouped into associations between developed and developing countries. Table 11 shows the GCC estimates, which show that the share of internal trade in the overall GDP of GCC members increased by 0.57% between 1974 and 1981, compared with 0.36% between 1974 and 1981 at 0.93%. Thus, it appears that the growth of internal trade8 took place, albeit slowly, after the signing of the GCC Free Trade Agreement. However, the GCC`s foreign trade growth as a share of common GDP has been greater than that of domestic trade. It seems plausible that the increase in foreign trade is due to the weak trade barriers of GCC countries against non-members and the GCC`s limited industrial production base. Implementation of the GCC Free Trade Agreement has also taken longer to develop as a framework for production sharing and enhanced trade. In addition, the GCC`s new industries, including petrochemicals, produce more than domestic markets can absorb. However, in the future, CCG producers could benefit from their larger markets based on the GCC`s market needs for a high per capita income.