Arab leaders call to bolster mutual trade
Riyadh, January 22, 2013
Arab leaders began a two-day economic summit in Riyadh last night, calling for the strengthening of mutual trade and co-operation to face challenges brought on by the Arab Spring uprisings.
Bahrain’s His Majesty King Hamad led the kingdom’s delegation at the third Arab Economic and Social Development summit, said a report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
"We should achieve an Arab common market," said Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi at the opening session, urging Arab nations to "catch up" in the realm of free trade.
"Very little has been done to improve trade between Arab countries," which reportedly comprises no more than 10 per cent of total Arab commerce.
Saudi Crown Prince, Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who stood in for Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in hosting the summit, highlighted economic and social challenges facing the region and also pointed to weak inter-Arab trade.
"The urgent development issues that face our countries are very difficult, including poverty, unemployment and disease. Efforts must be made to confront and eliminate them," he said.
"The level of trade between us does not match our ambitions."
Arab foreign ministers who met ahead of the summit prepared a draft agreement on inter-Arab investment, which if approved would allow a free flow of investments and capital between states, Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf said.
Bahrain King affirms resolve
His Majesty King Hamad affirmed Arab leaders' strong resolve to promote joint work and achieve the aspirations and hopes of Arab countries and its citizens.
He stressed the importance of strong bonds and firm determination in helping Arab leaders withstand challenges and overcome economic and social obstacles facing their nations.
He paid tribute to the Amir of Kuwait, Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, who convened an Arab Economic and Social Development summit in Kuwait in 2009.
His Majesty stressed the importance of the Riyadh summit in meeting Arab citizens' hopes and aspirations for a decent life, based on justice, prosperity and confidence in a secure future for the generations.
Earlier, on arrival in Riyadh His Majesty was welcomed by Saudi Social Affairs Minister Dr Yusuf Ahmed Al Othaimeen, Saudi Ambassador to Bahrain, Bahrain's Ambasador to Riyadh and Riyadh military base commander. – TradeArabia News Service