The Arab Economic Summit,
19-20 January 2009,
State of Kuwait

Speech of
Mr. Ali Mohammed Tonayyan Al-Ghanim
Head of the Conference of
"Arab Economic Integration from the Private Sector's Viewpoint"
Head of Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry


 

Kuwait: 19-20 Jan 2009

Their Majesties, Excellencies, and Highnesses, Kings, Presidents and Amirs

Brothers and Friends,


As an Arab Kuwaiti citizen, I would like to express my pride that my country Kuwait is hosting the Arab economic, developmental and social summit, and that His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah the Amir of Kuwait, may Allah bless him, the head of the conference is hosting his brothers the Arab leaders, in their country and among their people.

 

As the head of the "Arab Economic Integration from the Private Sector's Viewpoint" which was organized by the Arab Union Chambers of Commerce and Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, I feel proud to represent the Arab private sector, and to be its spokesman. I am quite grateful to this summit as it is distinguished with unanimity on the importance of availing the appropriate climate for the Arab private sector to perform its basic and leading developmental role in its capacity as a full partner in achieving the Arab economic project.

 

Leaders of the Nation and its Pacemakers,

If it is not fair to forego the vast and several steps achieved by the economic Arab work, it is also fair to admit that such steps are bumble compared to ambitions and capabilities and compared to what other blocks achieved. The Arab world still confronts difficult developmental challenges, the complexity and interaction of which is embodied in many dangerous phenomena, most important of which is the increase of the rates of unemployment, poverty and disparate incomes, the inability of basic services to catch up with the increasing number of population, the weakness of food and water security and the failure of the educational process to cope with the needs of development and the requirements of competition.

 

In its conference, the Arab private sector expressed its belief that the Arab economic integration represented in the Arab common market is a pre-condition not only for the confrontation of such basic structural challenges locally, but for treating its consequences regionally; like the weakness of productivity, the tightness of the market, the deficit of trade and payment balances, the increase of the degree of dependence and exposure.
Building on this strong belief, the conference of the private sector came up with a memo, which the union of Arab chambers of commerce had the honor to submit to your dignified summit, trying to identify the main aspects of the road map toward the achievement of the Arab common market, pursuant to specific steps and scheduled timetable. The most important among those steps are:

 

  • Eliminating the hindrances that still hinder the performance of the Arab free trade zone, by cancellation of all aspects of customs, unifying specifications, and adopting rules of origin.

  • Enhancing the efficiency of Arab-Arab trade via the development of infrastructures and organizational entities, decreasing the cost of transport and transit, facilitating finance, and freeing service trade.

  • Activating the integrated production to enlarge the Arab production base via mutual integration projects, attracting and maintaining investments, and enhancing the participation of the private sector, particularly in the fields of communication, transportation, oil and power, food and water security.

  • The participation of the private sector in taking economic decision.

  • Adopting economic policies that prevent the formation of corruption hosting environment, as corruption increases costs, demolish values and tear up social cohesion.

The most important stop in the road map, as drafted by the memo of the Arab private sector, is the reparation of education from the elementary level to university, in all types and specializations, all organizations, curricula and output, to match the spirit of the era, the economy of information, to satisfy the needs of development and treat unemployment.

 

It is time to say in this regard that the Arabian private sector, which sees in this summit a good new start for supporting its role, and achieving its anticipations, understands deeply that this phase shall double its developmental, social and professional responsibilities, and announces confidently that it is willing to shoulder such responsibility, ready for it, and shall succeed – God wills – in doing it, setting up from the national perspective, abiding by social justice, and developing itself via free competition and specialized administration.

 

Leaders of the Nation and Its Anticipated Hope

Your economic developmental summit is held under very dull economic conditions due to the world financial crisis and under very serious political situations, due to the barbarian Israeli aggression on our people in Gaza. If such situation puts unsurpassed heavy burdens on the summit, it also highlights it’s the importance of its mission, and the righteousness of its time and location. The international financial crisis seriously proves the feasibility and importance of nationalizing Arab investments, and calls upon us to hasten the steps of economic and social reform. The crisis is not a result of the wrongness of the principles of freedom and market economy, but is rather a deviation from them. The barbarian aggression on our people in Gaza is in turn a very violent warning for the whole nation to realize the vital link between security and development and vice versa, and to realize that the concepts of development, trade and investment shall become meaningless unless protected with the unity of goal, and the strength of a solid situation. What difference does it make if the agricultural sector is strong or week, if the oil price is high or law, if the industry is advancing or not while our land is occupied, and our blood is shed due to the tyranny of enemies and the separation of brothers?

 

May Allah unite your word for the good, guide you to wise decisions and lead your efforts toward security and development.

Asalamu Alikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatu

 

 

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