Mideast role in global economic set-up urged
Manama, May 18, 2009
Global governing bodies such as the IMF and World Bank must be reshaped to reflect the new reality of the global economy, said Bahrain Economic Development Board chief executive Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa.
In a speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Jordan, Shaikh Mohammed said that Western-centred global institutions had ignored the new balance of power for too long. It was time for the Middle East to take its rightful place in the new global economic architecture, he added.
'To be fair, the old system served us well in its day, even if it did have a hint of colonialism about it,' he said.
'For rising powers that were mostly excluded - like the Gulf, China and India - it was merely unfair.'
'But with the needs of the world's poorest largely ignored, for the emerging world it has been lethal. Things must change; the world can do better. We need to redesign a global system that is fairer and more co-operative, sustainable, efficient and profitable. We must work together to make sure we build a better world.'
'We were pleased that our friends and neighbours across the causeway in Saudi Arabia were able to speak powerfully for the Gulf and for Mena at the London summit,' he said.
'A different voice, with a different perspective. But now we need to go several steps further. We need a carefully planned global redesign - and that means diplomacy as well as finance - not just of the G20, but of the IMF, the World Bank, and the United Nations, too.
'A quick glance at the atlas tells you the world includes China, India, Africa and the Middle East, not just Europe, Japan and America. To succeed, global redesign has to be just that - global.'
Shaikh Mohammed believes there is much to learn from the Gulf economies. The six nations of the GCC have been careful about managing debt levels while investing in essential areas like infrastructure, education and healthcare, and are becoming a model for cross-border partnership.
Bahrain itself can play a valuable role in the global redesign, he continued, having taken a number of domestic measures designed to strengthen the long-term sustainability and prosperity of the kingdom. These include a prudent fiscal and monetary approach, long-term strategy of economic diversification and tried and tested regulatory framework with a commitment to the highest international standards.
'In a crisis, you see a flight to quality; a flight to values that have stood the test of time. Our tradition of prudent financial regulation has done so better than the US and UK models. It may be that our combination of tradition and reform - both based on ethical values - deserves a second glance.'-TradeArabia News Service