Arab leaders stress need for economic unity
Arab leaders attending yesterday’s concluding session of the third Arab Economic and Social Development Summit renewed their commitment to fully implement the decisions made at the two previous summits in Kuwait in 2009 and at Sharm El-Sheikh in 2011.
They also agreed to hold the next summit in Tunisia in 2015.
The two-day summit, organized by the Arab League was hosted by the Kingdom with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, as its Chairman.
On behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense took over the chairmanship from his predecessor, Muhammad Mursi, at the commencement of the summit on Monday.
Leaders from countries including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the Sultanate of Oman, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Palestine, Yemen, Libya, Mauritania, Somalia, Djibouti, and Comoros Islands attended the meeting held at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Hall in the capital.
Arab League Secretary General, Nabil Elarabi, who read out the Riyadh declaration, stressed the importance of the speedy implementation of all decisions passed at the two summits.
It also emphasized the determination of the leaders to remove all barriers that stand in the way of inter-Arab trade and support small and medium enterprises in member countries. The leaders have called for strengthening joint Arab work so as to improve the living conditions and welfare of their citizens.
They also welcomed the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, on the increase of the capital of joint Arab funds by 50 percent to meet the growing needs for the socio-economic development in the Arab countries.
The King’s initiative also called for an increase of capital in joint Arab companies by, at least, 50 percent in a bid to develop their potential for establishing of joint Arab ventures.
They also encouraged inter-Arab investments which, they said, would create new job opportunities, reduce rates of unemployment, curb poverty levels, and promote Arab investment within their countries to enhance economic development in the Arab region. To encourage the flow of inter-Arab investments, they adopted a unified agreement for a capital fund in Arab countries to boost Arab, regional and international development that would increase the flow of inter-Arab investments and make the region more attractive to investors.
They also expressed a commitment to create a conducive environment for investment in their respective countries.
Also adopted was an Arab strategy for the use of renewable energy (2010-2030) aimed at meeting the growing demand for energy and diversifying sources to meet requirements for sustainable development. The strategy is also intended to set up an Arab market in partnership with the private sector for renewable energy, which will create new job opportunities.
It was also demanded that constructive measures be taken to combat hunger and to provide instant relief in emergency situations arising from food security.
Realizing the importance of healthcare services in the Arab region, the declaration said that the countries should take preventive and curative measures against non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases. It was felt that NCD creates a significant burden on the economies and health systems in the Arab countries.
They also urged the implementation of the Riyadh Declaration issued by the International Conference on Healthy Lifestyles and Non-communicable Diseases in the Arab world and the Middle East,” held in Riyadh in December last year.
Besides setting up the Arab Customs Union by 2015, the house also insisted that matters regarding the formation of the Greater Arab Free Trade should be finalized before the end of 2013.• Full text of the Riyadh Declaration