Official: Kuwait summit serious step towards establishing Arab economic bloc

Xinhua 2009-01-17

Official: Kuwait summit serious step towards establishing Arab economic bloc

KUWAIT CITY, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) — The General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture for Arab Countries said here Saturday that the first Arab economic summit slated to be held on Jan. 19-20 will be a serious step to boost efforts to establish an Arab economic bloc.

Adnan Al-Qassar, Chairman of the union, made the remarks in a speech at the inauguration of the "Private Sector and Civil Society Forum" held ahead of the Arab economic summit.

Al-Qassar told the forum that achieving the economic goals of Arab countries required a thorough Arab vision that put in mind the collective needs of all countries.

Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah addresses the opening ceremony of a forum on Arab private sector and civil society in Kuwait City, Kuwait, Jan. 17, 2009. The forum is one of preparatory meetings for the first-ever Arab economic summit due to open on Jan. 19.

The upcoming Arab economic summit, which would focus on the global financial crisis, infrastructure in the Arab world and social issues, provides chances of forging common action, said the official.

Al-Qassar voiced hope that the summit would take serious decisions toward an Arab free trade area, the establishment of a customs union by 2015, and founding a joint Arab market by 2020.

He emphasized the importance of dealing with obstacles facing the transportation sector, setting policies for combating unemployment, encouraging investment, supporting industries and projects, and achieving Arab food security.

He also underscored the significance of unifying tax and economic systems, improving the environment for joint Arab projects, studying the possibility of establishing a fund to compensate countries that would be harmed by integration.

The official called for developing infrastructure to activate trade and investment among Arab countries especially in the fields of transportation, communication, roads, railways, bridges, tunnels, ports, energy, electricity, gas and agricultural projects.

Arab countries should approve a joint policy to keep track of concepts related to economy, technology, and knowledge, Al-Qassar said.

The two-day Kuwait summit, the first one initially designed to be devoted to economic issues, also adopted the Gaza crisis on the agenda, according to Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.

The Arab economic summit has not lost its economic nature because of discussing the tragic situation in the Gaza Strip, which has been under intensive Israeli offensive for the past three weeks, said Moussa on the sidelines of Saturday’s forum.

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source: Xinhua